Combating coronavirus: Remote working and mental health

Philip McKeever

March 24 2020

For advice on all of your coronavirus queries, call our expert advisors any time day or night on 1890 252 923. Our coronavirus toolkit and blog also contain the latest news and most up-to-date advice for employers. 

The coronavirus crisis has created unexpected challenges for Irish businesses. While not all businesses will be in a position to have staff work from home, remote working is being widely used to keep employees at work during a time when everyone needs to respect social distancing measures.

If it’s appropriate for your business, putting a working from home policy in place during the crisis will allow you to ensure your employees’ safety and enable your business to continue operating.

While those are the positives, remote working has its drawbacks on a personal level. It can leave employees feeling isolated and out of touch. As a result, their mental health may suffer.

So, what can you do to ensure your employees come out the other end of remote working happy and healthy?

Set targets

Having employees working from home can raise a few concerns. Among them is that employees might swap out working hours for personal use. However, by setting targets, be it daily or weekly, you’ll set a far-reaching plan in motion.

Not only will you be able to check if they’re still completing tasks, the employee will also remain busy and focused. This will distract them from constantly clicking coronavirus articles that only lead to more worry.

A healthy step for both you and your employees, setting targets will help you both come out the other side of remote working as healthy as always.

Managers need to make the right call as to whether to monitor hours or output. This will depend on the nature of the employee’s role.

Keep up to date

Due to the prominence of social media, misinformation is rife. As a result, it’s easy for employees to stress about something false that they read online.

That's why it's important to get the latest coronavirus developments from government websites only. Then, you can inform your workforce of the actual situation. The HSE and government websites both provide updates that you can include in video calls, emails or newsletter to remote workers.

Stay in touch

The importance of staying in touch with remote workers shouldn’t be underestimated.

Moving from an office setting to a makeshift home office in a flash isn’t easy to settle into. It may take some time for employees to get used to their new working arrangement. And that’s why staying in touch is key.

Emailing, calling, or video calling, will enable all remote workers to stay in touch. You will also be able to discuss upcoming tasks with them and ensure that they have everything they need to continue their work.

Furthermore, interaction with their colleagues will help remote workers maintain a type of balance in their day. By doing so on a regular basis, it will almost feel like they never left the office at all.

Exercise

Encourage employees to take breaks, get some fresh air and to move their bodies. Desk exercises are an easy way to keep the body moving. Employees can roll their shoulders, punch the air, extend their legs and rotate their necks without leaving their desk. Nobody will be watching after all!

Outdoor walks during break times should also be encouraged.

Employee Assistance Programme

An Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) can help your employees manage their stress levels during these worrying times.

An EAP provides:

  • An online health portal and app,
  • 24-hour phone, email and live chat counselling, and
  • an occupational health assessment if needed.

Find out more here.

Need our help?

If you would like further complimentary advice on employee health from an expert, our advisors are ready to take your call any time day or night. Call us on 1890 252 923 or request a callback here.

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