How Mental Health is a Barrier to Remote Working
With Covid-19 lockdowns forcing many of us to work from home, we have become used to facetime meetings and at-home offices. So much so that 97% of employees don’t want to return to the office full time. In fact, they want to have more flexibility between working remotely and in an office. And with 74% of professionals expecting remote work to become the new standard, it’s looking more and more likely that remote working is the future across a number of industries.
But before we start offering remote positions, we need to consider the mental health issues that come with working from home. Please keep reading to learn more about working from home and mental health, as well as ways you can support employees’ mental health for a better and brighter future.
The Mental Health Impact from Working from Home
A national survey has found that 72% of businesses expect some staff to work remotely for at least the next year. The British Chambers of Commerce figures also show that more than two thirds of businesses are now offering remote working to employees. Four in five professional services companies (like finance and law) have been able to offer remote working compared to 61% of manufacturers and 54% of hospitality and retail businesses. However, many of those businesses are also becoming “increasingly aware” of the mental impact of working from home.
Ruth Ross, Shropshire Chamber’s director of business, said that they “believed employers are considering the impact which long-term home working could have on team morale, or the mental health of employees.”
She continued: “Mental health and wellbeing of employees were cited by more than half the companies surveyed as a barrier to remote working – making it more difficult to foster a team spirit within the business.” When businesses were asked what they considered barriers to implementing remote working, 55% of them referenced staff morale or mental health and wellbeing.
Boosting Mental Health Support
As many businesses mentioned in these surveys, the concern of team morale and mental health and wellbeing are considered the biggest barriers to remote working. So how can employers support employees’ mental health even when they’re working from home?
One top way we are seeing many businesses support employee mental health and wellbeing is by offering more flexible working. This can come from working from home, but also through flexible working hours. Many employees may be parents, or may have family and personal emergencies which require their attention there and then. Rather than overwhelming them with stress and anxiety by pressuring them to continue work, give your employees more flexibility. An employee needs to log off and look after their sick children? You should be saying: don’t worry about it. We will sort out the hours at another time. An employee needs to go to an emergency doctor’s appointment? Show that you care about them as more than just a cog in the works. Hours and work can be made up in the future, but respecting their time and mental health in the now will have a lasting impact on their happiness as a person and an employee of your business.
Similar to this, many businesses are adopting a ‘wellbeing day’. Like sick days, employees are entitled to a certain number of these per year. Many businesses start out with one or two days a year per employee. An employee can request a wellbeing day when they are feeling like they need a break from work to relax and unwind. This prevents people from taking long periods of time off work for stress. A wellbeing day is universal – it can be implemented for people working in the office and remotely, because although we are working from home, we can still become overwhelmed with work at times.
Offering Access to Therapy
Another great way you can support employee mental health from home and break down the barriers to remote working is providing access to therapy. Therapy no longer has the stigma attached to it which once prevented people from seeking out this expert support. Many people are now seeing the benefits of therapy for regulating mood, understanding our complex minds, and overcoming issues like depression, stress, and trauma.
Remote working doesn’t have to be a barrier to accessing therapy. In fact, employees who work in the office and at-home can all have equal ease of access to therapy. For example, I offer face-to-face and online appointments. Employees can have sessions after work on their way home or from a safe space within their own home. By providing employees with access to therapy when they need it, you are telling them that they matter whether they work from the couch or the desk, and that you are invested in their health and happiness and their long-term employment at your business.
Please take a look at my website to learn more about my services as a therapist and how I can support your ongoing mental health journey. I provide a wide range of services, as have expanded to include virtual, online appointments to provide greater access during these uncertain times. If you would like to learn more about how I can help you, then please don’t hesitate to get in contact.