Don’t Overlook the Mental Health of Your Remote Team

Written by Brian Montes

On April 24, 2020
Remote work is changing the way that people do business. Right now, it’s saving a lot of jobs and keeping several businesses afloat in a time when almost the entire world is shut down in some capacity. Professionals and organizations are issuing warnings to employers regarding the potential mental health risks of remote workers, especially given the current situation. Many people are working remotely who would otherwise be in an office environment or a more socially engaging setting. The people who are working remotely aren’t necessarily choosing to do so, which is bringing to light a few concerns that need to be addressed.

Pros for Some, Cons for Others

Remote work is changing the way that companies do business, and the fact that so many have been able to make the transition during the COVID-19 epidemic is putting pressure on the industry to reevaluate and reconsider the roles of many employees. However, working at home is not for everyone. While some may enjoy mental health benefits from being restricted from the stress of an office setting, others who typically thrive in a team environment will struggle.

This is why managers and team leaders must check in with all remote employees regularly. The new work schedule should include regular communications with employees, team meetings, and one-on-one sessions that allow employees to express their concerns, struggles, and other needs that they may have about their remote position.

Isolation and Burnout

Because of the nature of remote work, there are two main areas that employers will want to keep an eye on isolation and burnout. As mentioned above, some people enjoy the freedom of being left to their own devices and working in the peace and comfort of their own homes. Others need social interaction and human engagement throughout the day, and therefore may experience things like:
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Struggling to focus or complete tasks
  • Inability to focus
  • A general feeling of being withdrawn or not feeling like a part of the team
On the other end of this spectrum, there are the people who work hard and never stop, which at the office is one thing. In the remote setting, however, where your office is literally always there, this can be dangerous. Some people struggle to maintain a normal schedule and feel compelled to work at all hours of the day and night, even if it isn’t expected of them. What’s worse is that some companies may actually expect this from some of their remote workers.

Expected or not, it leads to one of the biggest employee turnover issues: burnout.

The Solution

Although every business will have their plan for addressing mental health, those managing remote teams should focus on things like:
  • Regular check-ins (individual and team)
  • Wellness and “mental health” days
  • Encouraging separation of work and personal life
  • Assisting with setting objectives and goals
  • Flexible working schedules and hours
  • Encouraging breaks and time of
Employees are your responsibility as a manager or team leader, and their mental health is just as important as their job performance. Make sure you’re paying attention.

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