There is no doubt that remote working has many benefits for both employees and employers. It can offer greater flexibility in how and where people work and the opportunity to escape from the office and avoid workplace distractions.
However, it can be a hard task managing a remote team. Perhaps one of the toughest elements is recognising and addressing mental health concerns within a remote work setting. It's not as simple as popping over to ask an employee a question or grabbing a coffee, and problems are easy to miss.
One significant challenge that directly impacts mental health can be the loneliness and isolation that often comes hand in hand with remote working, especially for those who live alone. So, as part of Mental Health Week in the UK, we are suggesting three simple actions for managers to help combat loneliness for those who work from home.
- Regular check-ins.
While the novelty of video calls may have worn off, you will find they are one of the best ways to prevent loneliness for remote workers. Video calls provide the closest alternative to face-to-face interaction and are an excellent way for managers to check in and see how teams are doing.
Cameras being on for these check-ins are vital as understanding body language and physically seeing someone on screen will be essential to pick up on telltale signs of low mood and depression.
Team video calls can also help boost morale, unite teams and keep everyone on the same page.
Remember to remain available: While it's important to respect your employees' boundaries, make sure they know you're always available if they need to talk. Let them know they can reach out to you anytime, day or night.
2) Promote a healthy remote lifestyle:
A sense of loneliness is often exacerbated by poor mental and physical health, creating a viscious cycle. Without the support of colleagues and the structure of a regular workday, it can be easy for busy staff to let their health suffer.
Encourage your team to focus on their wellbeing as you would within the office. You may not be able to provide an onsite gym or free fruit but offering or signposting health apps and chat support groups for healthy lifestyle management is a great way to help them connect with the outside world while also encouraging a healthier mindset.
3) Encourage Flexibility
Remote working should provide greater flexibility for those that work from home, but often you see reports of staff working longer hours and feeling chained to their desk.
Cabin fever is a big problem with remote work, so it is essential to encourage your team to leave the house at least once a day. Proactively encouraging staff to get up and out of the house regularly and ultimately being more forgiving with your staff's work/life balance will lead to better overall performance in the long run.
Support Your Remote Workers With These Strategies
Loneliness and depression are two of the biggest problems regarding remote work mental wellbeing. However, there are things you can do to combat this. Take the three actions we've discussed today, and you'll be on your way to improving workplace loneliness and improving workplace wellbeing as a result. So why not try them out today for Mental Health Week?
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