The COVID-19 pandemic has generated a greater interest into mental wellbeing. The shift to a remote working economy has altered the perception of work and its accompanying stressors. Generally the effect of remote work on mental health varies. For example, a study conducted by the LSE Business Review reported the influence of personality traits, specifically individuals who are more open to try new experiences, are less likely to report mental health concerns. Employers should be wary of individual differences as quarantine measures that deprive individuals’ social needs can generate anxiety and distress. The following post features a guide adapted from Sull et al. (2020) to help assist the quality of jobs in Malta and elsewhere.
How to support mental wellbeing whilst working remotely
1. Regular check-ins: ask your employees how they are doing in their personal and professional lives.
2. Creative means to combat social isolation: set social activities with your employees such as coffee breaks or online exercise classes! Although a yoga class can be enjoyed by all, don’t let this replace personal one-on-one conversations with your employees.
3. Provide emotional support: a leader can provide resources that range from information leaflets to counselling services. Managers and supervisors can be provided with coaching sessions on how to discuss mental wellbeing with their teams.
4. Re-think performance evaluations: although research indicates that productivity in remote working is not necessarily negatively correlated, employers should be conscious of the differences in responsibilities that applies to remote work. This re-distribution of performance evaluations should reflect realistic targets and expectations of the organisation.
5. Address work-life imbalance: remote working provides certain advantages such as less commute time to an office, however one main disadvantage is potential blurred boundaries between work and home life. Employers can openly communicate the needs of employees, such as adjusting their schedules according to personal obligations and family responsibilities.
Presently research is targeting people vulnerable to COVID-19-related mental health concerns in order to provide guidance to employers in supporting their workers. At the very least, the consensus is to implement core interventions such as online mental health services and accessible resources for employees. Remote work has introduced new challenges for organisations including added pressure to mental wellbeing. Supporting mental wellbeing especially during times of uncertainty will provide for a healthy corporate culture necessary to grow positively presently and in the future.
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