The Unexpected Fallout from Remote Work-Employee Mental Health Is Waning

Wired UK pp53-55 |Well Being in the Workplace| Work Smarter| “In Crisis: “Covid-19 has created an unprecedented mental health emergency affecting every business”. “Here’s how you can support your team and come back strong”.

Summary of Article

So far employee (EE) requests for mental health (MH) support are up 80% yet 66% of those workers under 25YO opt to neglect personal health and job satisfaction rather than risk a job change at this time. Half of these workers say they would hide MH concerns from their employer.

What’s pushing up MH concerns?

Not surprisingly many of us subconsciously improve our well-being by interacting and forming personal bonds at and during work. In some cases, we even benefit from "self-time" during a reasonable commute-listen to music, podcasts or audiobooks or stopping for a coffee. In the UK work from home increased from 1.7M EE to 20MM currently. This sudden loss of face-to-face discourse being replaced with teleconferences or video meetings apparently has taken a toll. Not something most of us thought about but these virtual modes of work make it easier to withdraw and harder for colleagues and the people-team to discover and lend support to those struggling emotionally with the change, the isolation and the everyday challenges of work. For some EE, having a good home-office set-up and options for getting outside etc. eases the impact. Other EE living in cramped quarters and coexisting with children and others increases daily stress. Some companies will be converting to more remote work or all remote work and shutting down some or most onsite space. Other companies have learned by this experience that they can accommodate more flexible on-site work hours without impacting productivity.

What to do?

First, although harder to detect and more subtle than working face-to-face, EE and leaders need to proactively pay closer attention to each other in a supporting way. Do you sense a change in work behavior; Is a team member or leader quieter on calls or keeping camera off? Are they being less productive? Are they being more error prone? Secondly, firms should invest more on EE wellbeing and if available use some money saved on lease space. According to a Deloitte Report, these wellbeing programs that further engage and proactively energize the workforce, may even boost productivity.

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