By Kayleigh Frost, Head of Clinical Support at Health Assured
We have now reached the 12 months mark from the first official lockdown in England. And while some people have taken to remote working like a duck to water, this isn’t the case for all employees. Others will be found working from home for the last 12 months exceedingly difficult. And that’s where an employer’s duty of care comes in. Here are some ways to support remote workers virtually.
Communication is key – The simplest yet most effective method of supporting workplace wellbeing during lockdown is by regularly keeping your people in the loop. Sending gentle weekly updates providing insights on any workplace changes will help your people, including those who have been furloughed, feel included and valued.
Continue to be flexible – Depending on whether your organisation is able, it’s important to remain flexible with work schedules. Don’t forget that some of your staff may be living with a vulnerable family member or have childcare scheduling issues. Therefore, by offering a flexible schedule, you will help them balance the pressures of work and home life and support their mental wellbeing in the process.
Regular check-ins – Set up regular chats with the whole team. Even just a quick morning get-together via webchat will help your people feel connected and less isolated. Scheduling informal check-ins at the end of the week can also present the opportunity for your people to voice any issues if they’re struggling with working from home.
Listen to your team – Not everyone will find lockdown—and the changes that come with the easing of restrictions—easy. Whether it’s adapting to a new way of working, being isolated from loved ones, or losing control over their usual routine, many of your people will find this time very difficult. Extend a compassionate listening ear and let them know that you are all in this together.
Remember, whether your team members have worked throughout the last 12 months or have been furloughed during this time, some may likely experience lasting mental health effects from the pandemic. Some may have experienced ill-health, friends and family members in distress or even bereavement. When life starts to appear more ‘normal’ and workplaces start to operate as they did before COVID, considerations should be made regarding how people return to work. Even a simple approach such as a staggered return, where individuals are gradually phased back into the workplace over several weeks can be beneficial for your people’s mental wellbeing.