Many businesses are now prioritising employee mental health and wellbeing, with the aim of creating a happier and more resilient workforce that can thrive in a remote or hybrid working environment as well as the traditional workplace based working environments.
Stress in the remote/hybrid workplace
In the past couple of years, notably due to the pandemic there has been a huge shift towards remote and hybrid working with many companies continuing this trend, allowing employees to no longer be constrained by traditional 9-5 hours or specific postcodes. This shift towards hybrid and remote can often bring about new challenges in terms of mental health and wellbeing such as the feeling of isolation, managing and prioritising workloads against family demands and being able to switch off at the end of the working day.
Arguably one of the biggest drawbacks of remote working and a major factor contributing to employee unhappiness and stress. Loneliness caused by a lack of social interaction can take a toll on employee mental health which may in time deteriorate both professional performance, wellbeing and the standard of living at home if they are working fully remote.
Employers can help with this by organizing regular communication opportunities with employees, simply checking in on them to discuss work progress to building in informal coffee breaks and fun team events that can take place over Zoom, Slack etc. can help combat feelings of isolation.
This is a relatively new cause of potential stress in the workplace as a direct result of working remotely or in a hybrid setting. Due to not working ‘on-site’ employees may feel that they need to prove their dedication to the company and go over and above to prove that they are working the necessary hours. This may mean that employees work through their lunch breaks, or start earlier and finish later to ensure they are working ‘full days’. Many positions involve professional communication on a mobile device – from emails, to slack and even social media if they work in a marketing role. Having work linked to your mobile after work hours will undoubtedly lead to employees continuing to check on notifications, and reply back to them outside of work hours.
Employers should respect agreed working hours and schedule emails and calls to fall within the contracted hours where possible. Or, acknowledge when the employee is working outside of these hours and flex their contract or agreement if possible. Letting an employee finish early or have some time off as a reward for putting in additional hours will undoubtedly be welcomed.
Acknowledging the efforts of remote workers will help boost their confidence and ensure they feel appreciated for working in what can be unusual circumstances (for example school holidays) and potentially lessen stress in the remote/hybrid workplace.
April is stress awareness month, which is an ideal opportunity to raise awareness of stress within the workplace and how this can be a result of increased pressures on hybrid or remote working. But, it is important to remember stress can affect employee wellbeing at any time and so we encourage businesses to adopt a supportive approach and have support in place for when employees may require support dealing with stress.
At Hope Therapy our Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) has people only a phone call away ready to support your business and your most important asset.
We offer face-to-face sessions and remote sessions via Zoom, Skype or Phone.