Working remotely can be great for employee productivity as well as their happiness. However, if not done properly, it can actually cause stress and anxiety. As an employer, you aren’t obliged to, but it does help if you actively take care of your employees’ mental health while working remotely.
In order to do this, you first need to understand the factors that could affect their mental health.
Factors That Affect Employees’ Mental Health When Working from Home
Lack of Structure and Routine
Certain people are quite good about maintaining a structure and routine in their workday, even when working from home. Others, however, may find it difficult to create a routine for themselves, thereby affecting their mental health while working remotely.
A lack of structure affects mental health because it means workers aren’t able to complete their work hours. This, in itself, could cause them considerable distress, but the stress can be further compounded as the work piles up.
When working in an office, employees have a distinct start time and end time. This means that once they are out of the work environment, they have time to decompress, relax, and forget about work. This decompression period is very important for the mental health of your employees.
When working from home, however, people tend to continue to work beyond office hours, whether it is because they started late, or figured it’s easier to get things done before they stop for the day.
The result is that the boundary between home-life and work-life tends to blur. It’s quite easy to feel guilty about looking after the needs of the children in the middle of the workday and overcompensating by working later.
However, ensuring a proper work-life balance is an essential part of taking care of your mental health while working remotely.
In an office, employees have some interaction with other people, even if it is not exactly a social setting. When working from home, especially when everything else is under lockdown as well, employees can start feeling isolated and alone. Isolation can be one of the biggest causes of depression and other mental health problems.
Ways to Protect Your Employees Who Work Remotely
Having identified the main culprits that can affect your employees’ mental health, here’s what you can do to help your workers.
While it might seem unnecessary to keep in touch very frequently, regularly communicating with your employees can help their mental health tremendously. Regular group conversations, especially on video calls, can alleviate the sense of isolation individuals might be feeling.
Additionally, having a one-to-one conversation with your workers can help you identify their main problems and address them.
For example, if an employee is feeling overworked, the situation might escalate until they are completely overwhelmed and burn out. If, however, you can have a conversation about it early on, you can help them by reducing their workload, or helping them manage it better.
Encourage a Proper Work-Life Balance
In some cultures, working longer hours is encouraged as it makes it seem like the employee is more ‘dedicated’. However, as we know, this can lead to mental health problems. In order to take care of your employees’ mental health when working remotely, encourage them to stay within the working hours. This means stopping when the time is up.
When working from home, it is not always possible to work during office hours, especially when the employee has young kids who may need their attention. In such cases, employees may get stressed about not being able to give their 100%, which could affect their mental health.
By allowing flexible working, you give them the freedom to decide the hours they work. This way, you let them decide when it’s the best time for them to work feel without feeling guilty about taking care of their family.
Structured Work Hours
You can take care of your employees’ mental health while working remotely by encouraging them to create a routine that they follow. Even when working flexible hours, it is important to have a start time and an end time, and sticking to it. This takes care of the guilt they might feel if they didn’t start on time, which may then cause them to work later.
Having a structure to their workday means they can fulfil their work obligations even while working from home.
Tell Them to Go Easy on Themselves
During the Coronavirus lockdown, a number of employees felt guilty about not being able to accomplish as much while working from home as they did in the office. However, working from home on a consistent basis is very different, especially during times of stress.
Even if an external stress is not the issue, just the fact that they are feeling the pressure means it will end up affecting their mental health.
To protect your employees’ mental health while working from home, you need to reassure them that not being as productive is not a huge problem. As long as they try their best, the way forward is to understand how the environment affects their work and to plan accordingly.
At VODEX, we care about you and your employees. This includes everyone’s mental well-being as well as physical health. While it is up to you to take care of your employees’ mental health while working remotely as well as in the office, we can help you protect their physical health at work.
Take a look at our fume and dust extraction systems and let us know which ones could help keep your office or workshop safe for your workers. If you can’t find an extraction product that works for you, contact us to find out if we can help you with a bespoke solution.