A huge number of employees in the UK have been forced to work from home over the last few weeks, due to government restrictions to control the spread of coronavirus. However, being forced to stay cooped up in your house the entire day and lose contact with your colleagues can have a negative effect on your mental health and ability to do your job.
Indeed, a survey of homeworkers by the Institute for Employment Studies revealed one-fifth have increased how much alcohol they drink; 60 per cent have done less exercise; and a third admit to eating less healthily. As a result, 64 per cent have had trouble sleeping and nearly half are having to work irregular hours to fit in childcare obligations, the Financial Times revealed.
It is important managers pay particular attention to employees whom they think might be struggling from distance working, whether that is due to backaches, not having the right computer equipment, a lack of communication with colleagues, anxiety over job security, or feeling lonely.
Without being able to escape from work, many people might feel they always have to be connected, which can impact their mental health. What’s more, families will be juggling the demands of homeschooling their children too, adding pressure to their day and forcing them to work into the evenings.
Managers can try to be as flexible as possible with their staff during this difficult time, enabling them to work when they can fit it in and providing any office or technical equipment that would aid their homeworking.
They could also suggest meditation or relaxation techniques to alleviate employees’ stress, which may have a positive impact on their work. Mental health app Mindscape could be a good option, as it provides breathing exercises and practical tips on how to manage work, sleep, money and education.
Maintaining good communication with workers is essential so they can stay connected to their colleagues. Conflict management courses might also be useful to reintroduce staff to working alongside each other, having spent so long apart.