Supporting the mental health of your remote team
With many businesses embracing remote working over the last number of weeks, the workplace overhaul inflicted by Covid-19 has plunged many into working from home for the foreseeable. With continued isolation, remote teams and individuals are exposed to feelings of loneliness and a sense of disconnection, taking a toll on their overall mental health and wellbeing.
For managers navigating a team through this shift, protecting your mental health, and that of your employees is paramount during this uncertain time. We take you through the practical steps that can be taken to safeguard the wellbeing of your team when working remotely.
Recreate your office ‘social rituals’
Uphold the sense of community your team had in the office and think about some of those rituals that you can mirror remotely. There’s no reason why you can’t continue having ‘virtual coffee breaks’ or ‘sandwich and Skype’ team lunches to keep your team camaraderie intact and make sure it’s not all about work chat.
There’s no reason why you can’t continue having ‘virtual coffee breaks’ or ‘sandwich and Skype’ team lunches to keep your team camaraderie intact and make sure it’s not all about work chat.
Is your team equipped with the necessary tools?
Frustrations can grow within the team from not having the necessary tools to perform their jobs to the optimum. Think about what you offer in the office - such as back supports, dual screens, ergonomic keyboards, additional screens and noise cancelling headsets - and touch base with your team to see whether their home set-up significantly hinders them in any way. Offering what you can to your employees will make them comfortable, boost productivity and raise morale.
Practice open and effective communication
From establishing a communication structure, checking in with individuals, showing appreciation and gaining valuable feedback, be intuitive about the ways you can reach out to your team remotely to make them feel connected, secure and a valued member of your team.
Set a clear structure
Providing clarity and direction can help teams to focus and feel supported when adjusting to a new way of working. Discuss with your teams how you'd like to run supervision, check-ins, and work signoffs remotely.
Structure should provide staff a clearer sense of direction, but it shouldn’t be constricting so don’t pack the working week with check-ins. Trust your team to work autonomously
Prioritise a positive work-life balance
Remote working causes the line between working and home to become more blurred, so make sure you instil the importance of unplugging and maintaining a healthy balance among your team. Practices such as setting diary reminders to encourage your employees to wrap up the working day, setting aside full lunch breaks to displace from work and silencing email notifications in the evening can encourage employees to take valuable personal time and withdraw stress from their system.
And practise what you preach! It’s important you look after your own wellbeing so you can also be there to support your team. Sharing your own self-care strategies can help your employees follow your example.
Understand your organisation's wellbeing strategy
As a manager, be aligned with the organisation’s wellbeing strategy and ensure you are aware of all the support your business provides to people who may be struggling with their mental health. From video counselling sessions, virtual exercise classes, to mental health apps such as Headspace and Calm, knowing the spectrum of resources at hand will mean your equipped to provide the best advice when it’s time to talk.
Be mindful of childcare/family circumstances
It is likely that some of your team will be juggling remote working with childcare or caring for family members at home. This can trigger feelings of guilt and cause employees to lack focus when having to prioritise one over the other. Maybe you’ll be able to relate – so share a structured working from home plan that can keep them and their families happy and content.
Notice the warning signs
Fewer emails, a lack of response or complete withdrawal could be telling signs that a team member is struggling. Be mindful and alert to the symptoms of mental ill health and ensure all your team are aware that you have a compassionate and supportive relationship to mental ill health and that you are there to support and guide as may be necessary.