Remote Working: How To Protect Your Employees’ Mental Health

Desperate times call for desperate measures, and so it is that the global economy has shuddered to a halt as people are advised to stay at home and slow the spread of COVID-19. The consequences have already proven astronomical: supply chains outside the realm of essential supplies have slowed to a crawl, while many businesses have suspended their operations or even shut down altogether with no clear way to endure what’s coming. Panic is widespread.

One of the few silver linings to the overbearing cloud is that today’s internet infrastructure has made it possible for a lot of businesses to remain in operation through remote working. It hasn’t been an easy transition, though. Most companies weren’t prepared for the change, and are still in the process of trying to figure it out (there’s also the matter of security issues being found in the tools that businesses are using to communicate).

There are myriad challenges involved, but the issue we’re going to focus on here is that mental health. Coping with everything that’s happening and the shift to working in isolation is proving rather difficult for many workers. For their sake, and for the sake of your business overall, you need to help your employees to stay mentally healthy. Here are some tips for doing just that.

Learn how they think and what they need
Mental health is different for everyone: a situation that frustrates one person can leave another totally unaffected. Due to this, you’ll only be able to protect someone’s mental health if you understand them. You need to know how they think and feel about different scenarios. Does staying in bother them? Do they need a lot of conversation? Do they worry about employment?

When you know what they need to feel mentally stable, you can put in an effort to provide it for them. If they’re struggling with staying indoors, you can show empathy. If they’re worried about their job, you can reassure them about the state of the company and confirm that you’ll inform them if things ever start to go south. Sometimes people just need to be heard and understood.

Help them pursue their personal goals
Even those of us who like our jobs do them mostly because we get paid. Our goals are broader. Everyone has a range of things they want to achieve in their life — some short-term, others long-term — and this time spent in isolation is leading a lot of people to think about where their lives are going. This may well be true of your employees.

If so, you might be able to help somehow — and where you can’t help, think about who could: Orion Talmay offers breakthrough coaching which is pointedly about pushing towards major life goals, for instance. Why not try? Most of your employees’ goals won’t affect their employment, so helping them make progress (and feeling happier as a result) will only help your business. 

Don’t expect them to be as productive
Your business may be facing financial problems, pushing you to expect more work to get done instead of less, but it simply isn’t realistic to maintain your normal expectations at this time. People have good reason to be anxious and find it hard to concentrate, and telling them that they’re being insufficiently productive is only going to make things worse.

Do what you have to do to dial back the financial requirements of the business. Cut any unnecessary software subscriptions, let your office rental expire, and limit expenses on things other than pieces of home office equipment. Keep the business afloat, and give your employees time to get used to remote working. With minimal pressure applied, they’ll rise to the occasion.

Encourage them to talk to one another
Your employees might already stay in touch with one another, but that isn’t inevitable. You might find that they don’t communicate much outside of the office, something that’s both bad for your business and bad for their morale. Talking is important, but it’s tough for someone to fully deal with the demands of their job when the person they’re talking to doesn’t know what it’s like.

Encourage your employees to have virtual social events: quizzes, games, lunches, or just general chats. It’ll help them stay on good terms (making team productivity better) and it’ll make them feel less alone, so it’s a straightforward win-win.

As an employer, you have a duty of care, so you should do everything you can to keep your employees healthy and happy as they continue working during this strange time. The suggestions above should help you do just that, so start implementing them.

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