Supporting mental health and wellbeing after lockdown
On the 23rd March the way we work changed as we went into lockdown and we are not sure when or if it will go back to normal. The normal we know may have changed forever and we will have to adapt to this new way of working but what will this mean to our wellbeing at work after lockdown?
Wellbeing during lockdown
Some of us have learnt how to work from home and some have been furloughed and not been able to work at all. Key workers have continued to work and mostly in situations more stressful then they are used to working in. The effect of lockdown on our mental health will be different for us all, but our employers need to be aware of how this change to our daily lives may be affecting us.
Working from home has been a steep learning curve, for the businesses and the individuals. It can also be an isolating and challenging time. We have had to learn to be stuck indoors and not being able to socialise with our friends and family.
For some people this has brought about a new routine at home. This may mean working longer hours, being under pressure, having childcare responsibilities or finding it difficult to cope with minimal social contact. For others, it has given them time to step back and plan for the future, although not knowing what it will bring.
Wellbeing tips if you are still working from home:
- Stay connected: Although you cannot have physical contact with your work colleagues, stay in touch to help combat loneliness and isolation. If you have not heard from your work friends for a while, give them a call.
- Learn a new skill: Find out about some online courses that can help support you working from home. Take the time to catch up on some CPD (Continuing Professional Development) training.
- Speak out: If you are worried about something, talk to someone. Ask a colleague or speak to your boss. Remember, a problem shared is a problem halved.
Wellbeing after lockdown
When our workplaces can start to open the doors, we might not be able to return to our normal working environment. How many people – other than the boss, have an office of their own? Sharing with your team mates, can you apply the 2m rule to your office? How will the shared kitchen and toilets work in your premises? These are the factors that your employer will need to address before you can return to work.
They might have to reduce the number of desks and set up a hot-desking system, or even reduce the number of staff. Which means you might not be in the office every day. Having learnt to work from home, this might still become part of your work life. But with hot-desking, your employer will also have to take into account the cleanliness of your office space.
But it is not just about the space in your office and how clean it is. You may have been stuck at home for the last 2 months and the only contact you have had with your work colleagues is a zoom meeting, or a phone call. Some people may have found this time more productive, not having the distractions of the office. But others thrive off of working as part of a team. How has this affected the productivity of your business?
Take time to listen
Talk to your staff, their view on their work space and their job may have changed over the lockdown.
- Change of hours: If they have children, they might still have to spend time with home schooling even when the office doors open again. Would a change of working hours work better for them and your business?
- Continue to work from home: Find out which staff would be happy to work from home. You could find there is a natural change in the staff that can come into the office. This may also save you the stress of trying to change the layout.
- Mental health: Ask about how they have felt during lockdown, as they may have been stuck at home alone. Is there anything they need support with when returning to work?
Employers have a ‘duty of care’. This means they must do all they reasonably can to support their employees’ health, safety and wellbeing. You can find out more about your employers duty of care on the ACAS website Coronavirus and Mental Health at work.
Why not read some of our other blogs with tips and information about how to help your business during and after lockdown.