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    The Impact of Remote Working on Mental Health and How Team Building Events Can Help

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    By Lorna Boyer, Marketing and PR, Eventurous Ltd

    As we all try to make sense of the latest lockdown rules and guidance, a focus on employee wellbeing is becoming more important than ever.

    An increase in remote working has left employees feeling demotivated, and a lack of definition between work and home makes it harder to switch off. According to a survey by Nuffield Health, 80% of Brits feel that working from home has had a negative impact on their mental health, with 25% saying they found the loneliness and isolation of being away from co-workers a challenge.

    Enter virtual team building. 60-90 minutes of fun, that re-energises staff whilst also developing key skills that are important in the workplace. Whilst physical events are off the cards, many events businesses have digitised their offering, giving a whole host of options that can be incorporated into meetings or held as a standalone event.

    Historically, team building activities may have been blamed for adding pressure and inducing embarrassment from those with a more introverted personality, but in recent years, the change in team building events and focus on personalising activities means that team building has become an integral part of ensuring good mental health amongst employees.

    Increasing communication to create a support network

    “No Man is an Island” – John Donne

    There are very few people who thrive in isolation, and a sense of disconnect from colleagues can be a leading cause of low mental health amongst workers. A quarter of those working from home say they are finding it difficult to cope with the mental challenges of loneliness and isolation from colleagues. Communication is one of the most important things in tackling mental health issues, and knowing you have a support network there for you is key.

    Team building activities are the ideal way to promote these support networks and get your staff making valuable bonds. Where staff from different teams may have been able to mingle in the physical workplace, remote working makes this much harder and can leave people feeling isolated from their colleagues.

    Placing employees in mixed teams gives everyone a chance to work with someone different and strengthen connections that last way beyond the activity. It also gives people a chance to connect on a level away from work, making it easier to share when they are feeling overwhelmed or stressed. Get colleagues laughing over a virtual culinary experience or solving problems together with a virtual escape room to create valuable bonds which translate into the workplace.

    Improving company culture for a more open and relaxed environment

    Leading on from this, 30% of staff disagreed with the statement ‘I would feel able to talk openly with my line manager if I were feeling stressed’. This alarming stat isn’t necessarily due to a bad relationship between the employee and their line manager but a lack of understanding or communication between the two people.

    It’s easy to jump to conclusions on how someone might react to a conversation regarding mental health when we don’t feel fully connected to that person. This disconnect often increases when hierarchy is involved and leads to mental health problems gradually worsening.

    Hosting a team building event is a great way to tackle this. Choose a format that puts everyone on an even playing field so everyone can connect without the pressure of hierarchy. Activities that get everyone letting go of formalities and feeling relaxed are especially good for this, such as a virtual haka or gameshow style activities.

    Feeling comfortable with the people you work with subsequently makes for a more comfortable working environment, reducing anxiety and stress levels. When the average person spends around 1/3 of their life at work, it’s easy to see why the working environment has such an impact on mental health. Making use of team building to get people having fun with those they don’t normally socialise with, is a great way to promote a positive work culture and develop friendships.

    Keep staff feeling appreciated and valued

    As more and more workers struggle to take breaks from their workload and find themselves overwhelmed, team building can provide a welcome pause that doesn’t leave workers feeling guilty.  With over a third (36%) of home workers feeling as though they always have to be at their computer to respond quickly, it’s important to recognise the work and adaptations staff have made to working remotely.

    Global studies reveal that 79% of people who quit their jobs cite ‘lack of appreciation’ as their reason for leaving and recognition is the number one thing employees say their manager could give them to inspire them to produce great work. Staff who feel unappreciated often suffer mental health issues as a result, with many people struggling with low self-esteem, leading to depression and anxiety. When it comes to inspiring people, nothing else comes close to recognition – not even higher pay or a promotion.

    Organising a team building event is a great way to say thank you to employees, giving them a chance to let their hair down and do something fun. An activity that provides a prize or physical outcome is great, such as a virtual cocktail night with ingredients delivered straight to their doors. It tells employees that you’ve noticed their commitment and you understand the importance of time away from their desks.

    In Summary

    Positively managing mental health is vital in good employee engagement and benefits all involved – employees, employers, and the bottom line. Each employers’ success depends on healthy and productive employees and if staff feel valued and supported, they’ll achieve more. You rarely know what your co-workers and staff are going through. Creating a supportive and connected environment is the best way to help those struggling with mental health.

    Photo by Ekaterina Bolovtsova from Pexels.

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