The world has changed and remote and hybrid working are here to stay, bringing many benefits, but also challenges. As individuals and leaders, we need to learn and adapt to better support our own and our teams’ mental health when hybrid and remote.

Summary by The World of Work Project

Remote Working is Here to Stay

Commutes to the office, in-person meetings, and inflexible 9-5 schedules are a thing of the past as organisations around the world embrace the benefits and conveniences of remote work.

However, despite the many benefits of remote working, there are plenty of challenges, too. From the isolation and mental health difficulties to the struggle for motivation and the challenge of maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Reportedly, more than half of Americans found the sudden transition to remote work challenging.

In this article, we will be sharing how you can better support your virtual teams with their mental health.

1. Encourage Time Off from Work

Work is busy. Whether you’re working from the office or from home, there is always a never-ending list of things to do. For remote workers, the temptation to work longer hours and check in on their emails over the weekend is more tempting (and easier) than ever before. As a result, more and more people are experiencing symptoms of burnout.

According to David Nesenoff of Tikvah Lake Recovery, “Pandemic burnout is a new type of burnout, one where fear, anxiety and a sense of helplessness add a stifling layer on top of chronic physical and mental fatigue brought on by “burning both ends of the candle” on the work and home front.”

Burnout can cause both mental and physical symptoms, resulting in more time off work, lack of motivation, poor concentration, and long-term absence. To protect the health of your employees, it’s important you encourage time off from work.

Encourage your employees to take time off for lunch, finish work at normal times, make the most of their weekends, and take annual leave on a semi-regular basis. The better your employees are able to balance their work lives with their personal lives, the happier, healthier, and more fulfilled they will be. And this will only mean good things for your business.

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2. Allow for Flexible Working

One of the best ways you can support your remote employees is by permitting flexible working arrangements. For those employees who are working from home, it’s fair to say the struggle to maintain a healthy work-life balance is very real. From balancing childcare arrangements to having time to attend a doctor’s appointment, flexible working arrangements can help ensure everyone’s needs are met.

Allowing for flexible working arrangements gives your employees the chance to choose where and when they work. This is a great option for those who struggle with their mental health and require more flexibility to help manage their symptoms. In fact, according to a survey carried out by Flexjobs, “for 56% of respondents, having flexibility in their workday was overwhelmingly listed as the top way their workplace could better support them.” So, if you aren’t already doing so, now is the time to offer more flexible working arrangements to your employees.

3. Stay Connected and in Communication

When everyone was working together in the office, building relationships, leading meetings, and staying connected with employees on a one-to-one basis was a whole lot easier. Now that everyone is working from home, many employers are struggling to prioritise connection and communication on a regular basis. This is leaving over 1 in 4 people feeling less connected to their co-workers, isolated, and dissatisfied at work.

According to Forbes, “Transitioning to less face time with colleagues can cause bonds and friendships formed in the office to drop off or fade. But feeling connected to co-workers can have a positive impact on employee productivity and mental health. Building healthy work relationships is one of the most crucial ways you can support your staff, create a healthier work culture, and support employee mental health.

Technologies like Slack, Google Meet, and Basecamp are all great ways to stay connected with your remote employees. You can also schedule regular calls and host one-to-one virtual meetings that help you stay connected and in communication with each of your employees.

4. Provide Mental Health Training

Your employees feel supported at work when they know how much you care. Supporting the individual mental health struggles of your employees is a big ask – particularly when so many of these struggles tend to fly under the radar. More often than not, symptoms of anxiety, depression, burnout, stress, or isolation go unnoticed and those suffering do so in silence. As a result, employee health, happiness, and productivity can all take a downward turn.

A great way to show your support to employees is by offering mental health training across your organisation. Virtual mental health training sessions, particularly those held by an experienced mental health professional, can have a big impact on your team’s wellbeing. These training sessions should cover topics such as, how to identify mental health issues, how to prevent them, and what individuals can do to reduce their risk.

Providing virtual mental health training is a proactive way to show your employees just how much you care and offer practical support for their mental health struggles.

Final Words

We hope the tips in this article have been helpful. Of course, there are many practical ways you can support hybrid teams. However, taking the steps to prioritise the mental health and wellbeing of your virtual employees is a vital first step. We hope the tips in this article encourage you to make some positive changes within your organisation that will better support the mental health of all your employees for the long term.

About the Author

Chris is a passionate mental health and well-being writer, focusing on sharing his experience and improving the lives of others. When Chris isn’t researching the latest holistic and well-being therapies, he’s spending time with his two cats, usually curled up on the sofa reading a book. Find Chris on LinkedIn: @chrisharley0

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