What we’re seeing with COVID-19 is something none of us have lived before. It’s a time of uncertainty and change, which can trigger mental health concerns both personally and professionally.
As many employers move to a remote workforce, it’s essential that we offer support to our employees’ mental well-being. Here are tips to help promote mental health remotely.
Ensure communication is intentional, clear and consistent. Establish regular communication norms with your team so that everyone knows what to expect. Structure your schedule so that there is at least one team check-in a day. Virtual meetings (using platforms such as Zoom, Skype, or Google Hangouts) are encouraged. This allows the team to remain connected, both personally and professionally. Seeing someone’s face over video conference allows for further connection while we are physically distancing.
During these meetings, be sure to check in not only about work, but also about how they’re doing personally. Be mindful of your team’s personality or productivity changes – these may be signs someone is struggling.
With information changing daily, keep your employees up-to-date on the latest news. Be factual and try to cut through all of the panic-inducing and less credible sources.
To ensure communication is clear, avoid information overload by reducing the volume of emails sent in the same day. Instead, gather the most important information and prioritize what needs to go out today, what can wait until tomorrow, and so on.
Recognize that now is not the time to be rigid with procedures. Understand that employees are dealing with challenges – working from home for the first time, stress and anxiety around COVID-19, caring for family members. Every person reacts to situations differently – be understanding of this.
Be supportive of flexible hours, flexible work arrangements, and any other requests. This is not a normal situation so it is okay to provide options in the short term to show your commitment to making it work.
As a leader, it is important to be empathetic to each person’s reality. Try to understand what the person is experiencing and going through – and avoid judgement. Make yourself available to your staff to talk about fears, to answer questions and to reassure them about work and other issues that might come up. Actively listen and avoid dismissing views that are different from your own.
With the shift to a remote workforce, it may be hard for some to establish a balance between work and life. Encourage employees to practice self-care and mindfulness during and outside of work. Reassure them that it’s okay to take steps to manage stress, such as relaxation exercises, listening to music or taking regular breaks.
Suggest that they go for a walk outside at lunch, or a lunch break that includes some light exercise. This can look different for everyone, but communicate that emotional breaks are welcome and encouraged.
Don’t let physical distance let team building slip to the back burner. Actively seek opportunities to recognize and celebrate your team. Add some fun into their day and consider organizing a group yoga session at lunch, a virtual team celebration on Friday, a team movie night with Netflix, a virtual kids “meet and greet” or team fitness challenges. Do what works best with your team dynamic – these are the little things that make a big difference towards your teams positivity and mental health.