Homeworking – How are we holding up?
Homeworking in lockdown has presented unique issues. With many staff now confined to their homes, either furloughed or working remotely, staying in touch is not straightforward. For those with both pre-existing mental health conditions and those without, the financial and social constraints associated with the lockdown are stretching some to their limits.
The final installment of three blogs on homeworking touches on mental health, loneliness and isolation.
How are we holding up mentally?
It is a mixed picture. For some employees, time out away from the rush that has become synonymous with modern life is proving to be a delight. For others social distancing has left them isolated, fearful and concerned about job security or loss of income. We are yet to see the long term effects of lockdown.
Looking after the mental health of staff in lockdown, simple steps
- If the business has mental heath first aiders, this is the time for them to get in touch. In welfare communications with staff remind them of the first aiders and invite them to make contact if they need support.
- If the business has an employee assistance program (EAP) it is likely to have a counselling service that can be accessed and staff should be reminded of it along with any other tips offered by the service for alleviating stress, staying positive and managing physical and mental health.
- Mental Heath UK contains a number of useful resources which can be forwarded to staff https://mentalhealth-uk.org/help-and-information/covid-19-and-your-mental-health/
- Hafal website has tips to look after mental health during this crisis, including, not over-exposing oneself to negative news https://www.hafal.org/2020/03/five-tips-for-looking-after-your-mental-health-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/
Keeping in touch with the team
- Do arrange regular catch ups and social calls with staff to see how they are and to boost morale.
- Keep up team socials. If your team was used to curry night once a month, for example, why not think of using the numerous apps available (Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Skype, Houseparty, WhatsApp) to continue the tradition remotely so for the time being they stay connected.
Domestic abuse during lockdown
Difficult as it is to think of this, two weeks ago, the National Domestic Abuse helpline, run by Refuge, reported a 25% increase in calls and online requests for help since the lockdown. It received hundreds more calls compared to two weeks earlier. Refuge’s chief executive, believes that self-isolation has the potential to ‘aggravate pre-existing abuse behaviours'.
If you are an owner, director or partner in a business the chances are that someone in your workplace is affected by domestic abuse and they are, at present, at a greater risk. The challenge is knowing what to do.
For many employees who suffer abuse, their employer is unlikely to be the first port of call. Still, management could become aware of an issue and it cannot be ignored. The CIPD maintains that employers are in a unique position to respond and has some advice and resources which I am sharing.
- The National Domestic Abuse Helpline and website provides guidance and support for victims and those who are worried about friends and family. They can be called in confidence on 0808 2000 247
- Refuge has a number of resources including posters which can be put up in a virtual space on an employer's intranet and which signpost support. https://www.refuge.org.uk/refuge-publications-2/posters-and-resources/
- Business in the Community have put together a toolkit for employers on spotting abuse and on how to respond to it if aware https://www.bitc.org.uk/toolkit/domestic-abuse-toolkit/
Do offer support, listen and signpost where needed.
The guidance above and in my previous two blogs on homeworking is an iceberg tip on what is emerging. None of us expected this and we are all learning fast and adapting to change. Still, with positive support and commitment, businesses can make this transition a more positive one for staff and in the long term the lessons we take away could change our workplaces for the better.
Contact Amanda Okill on 01227 763939 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.