How Working Remotely Impacts Employee Mental Health
For many companies, the pandemic changed the way that they do business. Many employees who previously worked in an office environment were forced to work remotely for several months, or even years. And even with those restrictions lifted now, there are many more employees working from home currently than there were prior to the pandemic.
And while there are many benefits to remote working, it has not come without a cost to employee mental health. The combination of feeling disconnected from co-workers, pressures at home, and less-than-ideal home office set-ups have taken its toll on remote workers.
Fortunately, even if your employees are not physically in the office, there are things you can do to help mitigate mental health risks.
How working from home can impact employee mental health
Even before the pandemic, many employees struggled with stress. A 2019 study found that 22% of workers had a hard time unplugging after work, 19% struggled with feelings of loneliness, and 8% said they had difficulty staying motivated. When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, all of these issues were exacerbated.
A 2021 survey found that 67% of workers felt less connected to their colleagues during the pandemic, and 56% found it more challenging to unplug after switching to remote work.
How remote employees (and their employers) can help protect their mental health
Fortunately, there are some simple habits that remote workers can use to help them protect their mental health. As an employer, it is important to encourage these habits amongst your team.
- Get regular exercise: When we exercise, it reduces our stress hormone levels and stimulates endorphins. And it doesn’t have to be difficult or vigorous, either. Something as simple as taking a walk at lunchtime can help to relieve stress.
- Have a routine: When working remotely, it can be easy to get out of routine. Because we are habitual creatures, consistency is often crucial for optimal health and wellness. Having a regular work routine can make our days feel a lot less stressful. Sticking to a prescribed routine will also help to keep the boundaries between work and home life clear.
- Take advantage of employer mental health services: Many employers offer mental health services to their employees through their benefits plan. Employers should make sure that employees are aware of the services available, and encourage all employees to use these serves if they feel they need them.
- Have a healthy workspace set-up: Physical issues often directly affect mental health. Musculoskeletal pain, which is often caused by a poor ergonomic work set-up, can have a direct impact on employee mental health. Employers who invest in ensuring their remote workers have the necessary equipment, such as a proper desk and a supportive chair, can help lessen the risk of physical and mental health issues with their employees.
- Stay connected: It is easy to understand why many remote employees report feeling more isolated. As an employer, you can help your remote workers feel more connected by performing regular check-ins or conducting virtual team meetings.
Contact TeksMed today
Remote work presents new mental health challenges to employers and employees, but you can avoid many problems with proactive measures.
TeksMed offers disability management and return-to-work programs for all types of work environments, whether they are in-person, hybrid, or remote. To learn more, contact us today.