With the majority of the Australian workforce currently working from home due to COVID-19, it can be difficult for business owners and managers to check in on their teams regularly. 

Working in isolation can have a negative impact on people’s mental health, especially when they are used to seeing and engaging with people face to face every day, and are now spending more time without those social interactions. 

Employers should be prioritising their teams’ mental health and wellbeing during this stressful time. Here are some of our tips on how employers can ensure their staff feel supported and connected while working from home. 

Keep communication open

It’s important that your team still feels connected even when working remotely. Continuing to have regular contact will help your staff feel less isolated, and can help them remain productive.

Establish regular team catch ups, including operational and work focused meetings, but also social catch ups just so everyone can chat. Getting the whole team together at least a few times a week through virtual meetings can help everyone stay informed on what each other are working on and what’s going on for the company. 

As well as whole team meetings, schedule regular one-on-one phone calls or virtual meetings, using programs such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams, with your team members to allow you to catch up and for them to bring up anything. 

It is worth letting your staff know they can contact you outside of scheduled catch ups, if they are having any issues, whether that be with work tasks or work related stress, or even just want to chat. 

Making yourself readily available to your team and making sure they feel comfortable coming to you anytime will help them feel less isolated. 

Encourage breaks

Maintaining a good work/life balance is something most people strive towards, but it can be tricky when working from home, as the lines can get blurred. It can be too easy to keep working through lunch or past 5pm, with your laptop always within reach, but this can result in your staff becoming overworked and lead to burnout.  

It’s important to encourage your employees to take breaks when they need them, whether it’s going for a walk to get some fresh air at lunchtime, or just making sure they aren’t working too late in the evenings. 

This is a stressful time for many people, some of your employees may be dealing with children being homeschooled, caring for unwell or elderly family members, anxiety around financial stability, and just anxiety in general about COVID. Encourage your staff to set boundaries around their work schedule and look after themselves by switching off from work at the end of the day and taking time to recharge. 

Create workflow structure

Working from home will require many of your staff to change the way they work, and potentially even the processes of how they perform certain tasks. 

This may require many employers to establish new ways of working, which could include things like the use of new collaborative platforms and communication tools, as well as offering support to each other. 

Being clear around the structure of how new processes will work, and ensuring team members feel supported to reach out if they need help with any of their tasks, will help your staff keep a routine that is as productive as possible. 

Also make sure to allow for any feedback on things that work and things that don’t, so work processes can remain as effective as possible. 

Share helpful resources

Something else employers can do to look after the mental health and wellbeing of their staff during COVID is by providing access to helpful resources for mental health and wellbeing support services. 

It’s important to understand that not all of your team members might feel comfortable coming to you for issues to do with mental health, so sharing resources is a way you can offer your support. 

While carrying on with business operations as best you can is important, so too is looking after the mental health and wellbeing of your employees, so make sure you provide them with support during this challenging period.

For more tips on working from home, check out our blog on how to successfully manage a remote team.