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Help your employees with stress when working from home

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has had a significant impact on people’s daily habits in a such a short space of time. As a result, many of your employees may be experiencing new thoughts and feelings that are causing them stress.

Nationally our ways of working are changing, with the current advice being to work from home wherever possible and reducing all non-essential travel. Although regular working from home in ‘normal’ life has many benefits, some of these advantages aren’t currently available to us. This nationally imposed style also doesn’t suit everyone which can all lead to higher stress levels that impact good mental health.

How to tackle stress while working remotely

So how can we manage this stress when working remotely? Our society matron Cheryl Lythgoe shares six tips to keep your employees happy and healthy at home.

1. Work-life balance

Finding good work-life balance is vitally important and is needed to support all areas of our life. If we allow these lines to be blurred, we run the risk of not mentally or physically switching off.

Where possible we encourage employees to maintain normal working hours and practices. This means getting ready for work as normal, taking regular breaks, scheduling in a lunch break and ensuring any work-related tasks are finished by business close of play. If they can, we suggest your employees set up their workstations away from the spaces they relax in and remember to switch off any work-related technology.

2. Stay connected 

The conversations we have with our colleagues, friends and business partners enrich (and irritate) our days – sometimes in equal measure. Ensuring we maintain connectivity helps us boost our positive emotions and embeds our place within the workforce.

Having working days with no ‘water cooler’ conversations makes for a very isolated and vanilla existence which can then impact on our home lives. Therefore, encourage your employees to make their own ‘water cooler’ moments. Whether these are through digital platforms, video conferencing, telephone calls, social media or the vintage pen and paper, it’s important to stay connected.

Some of the things we’ve been doing to stay connected at Benenden Health include; team quizzes over Microsoft Teams, a daily indoor fitness challenge using all kinds of unique equipment and a weekly Friday disco.

3. Schedule, plan and diarise

Working from home can sometimes mean our normal business processes go astray. For some of your employees this can lead to a more frenetic approach and feeling out of control.

To combat this, we suggest you encourage your employees to maintain and use the skills of organisation they would adopt on a normal working day in the office. This gives them some structure and helps to manage and prevent the chance of burnout. Remember, it’s vitally important they take a break for lunch and have a pre-set and met start and finish time.

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4. Eat, drink and be merry

Just like a car, if our bodies aren’t fuelled appropriately, we will be ineffective or not run at all. Therefore, it’s important for our physical and mental health to make sure we feed our bodies right.

Research evidence tells us that if we are dehydrated or nutritionally deficit then our chances of poor mental wellbeing will be increased. It’s important that your employees drink plenty and it’s healthier if they choose to drink water. We suggest they alternate their caffeine with a glass of water.

Many employees may find they skip lunch to finish that important report, take that phone call, or check on their emails. However, the lack of the daily sandwich delivery, or the local shop, shouldn’t stop them feeding their bodies during the day. And no, a packet of chocolate digestives doesn’t suffice.

Encourage your employees to use their lunch break to step away from their desk, make themselves a quick and healthy lunch and consider a gentle walk to regenerate the body and mind before stepping back into work mode.

5. Invisibility

When we work regularly with our colleagues, we often notice the subtle signs that stress can show like changes of behaviour, dress and workflow.

Yet unfortunately when we’re all working from home, these subtle signs aren’t often picked up, making stress invisible to other colleagues. Ask managers to listen to their teams when they discuss how they’re feeling at the beginning of meetings. If they’re talking about feeling tired, bored or struggling to concentrate - it could be a sign of stress.

It’s also important to let your employees know where they can get help if they need it such as by contacting a mental health first aider or manager. Sharing a worry, concern or stress can often allow us to unpick the reasons and actively manage why. If you take control of these conversations before the stress happens it puts you as an employer in the position of positive influencer not passive reactionist.

6. Be kind

Finally, a recent key phrase that is currently trending everywhere from social media to health literature is around being kind. If your employees cannot be kind to themselves, they will struggle to be kind to others. Stress is a necessary part of life – we all need a certain amount of stress – it is only when that stress exceeds what the body and mind can manage at that time when problems occur. Be kind to your people by trusting them to take the space and time they need while working remotely, while still getting the job done.

Find out how Benenden Healthcare for Business could support your employees

Got a question and want to know more? Call us FREE on 0800 414 8179.