Looking after mental health and wellbeing when working from home

It’s well recognised that working from home in a global pandemic will create challenges for most people, and for many it can create mental health and wellbeing risks.

Some mental health and wellbeing risks already identified are:

  1. Losing social connections.
  2. Not being able to separate work from home so employees can switch off.
  3. Not having a good workstation setup or not having the right equipment.

Connections

Communication is part of the social connections we build at work. On top of meetings and tasks, casual conversations with colleagues positively contribute to mental health. It is harder to create these “water cooler” moments when not working in the same environment. 

Making time to connect with your team consciously is vital to building and maintaining relationships. 

Schedule a daily check-in via video or phone with your team each morning. You can discuss your organisation ‘work from home’ team guidance. Which style of communications will your team use? Can different members of the team contact each other to problem solve? If so, when is it appropriate?

Encourage your team members to talk to their managers about the situations they are facing. Can they brainstorm answers to the challenges they are experiencing? 

Make sure people have realistic expectations. The pandemic will create delays as organisations pivot from people working in offices to working from home. Discussing these challenges will help reduce the stress. 

Switching off from work

It is crucial your employees mentally separate their work from their home life. 

Some ideas achieve this are:

  • Wearing work clothes during work hours and changing into casual attire at the end of the working day.
  • Covering work with a sheet or shutting the door on work.
  • Creating a mini work commute. Leave out one door, walk around the block or garden, return and go straight to the office space.  
  •  Putting away mobile phones at the end of the workday. This creates mental space from work stressors. 

Equipment and workstation setup

Check your employees have the appropriate equipment to complete their tasks. What will you need to supply? 

Work with your employees to identify and assess risks and make decisions about eliminating or minimising the risks using appropriate control measures.

Working Wise can offer a range of services to help your team who are working from home. Some of the training and services we offer include:

  • Virtual workstation assessments and/or onsite assessments,
  • Advice on working from home, including policies and procedures
  • Reviewing your current health and safety systems
  • Running sessions with staff to identify risks and control measures

Check out WorkSafe NZ guidance document, Staying mentally healthy while working from home for more useful recommendations on how to help with workplace mental health.

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