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Resources

Tackling remote working stress carefully

With the UK now battling a second wave of coronavirus, and many workers back working from home, how employers can support – long-term – the mental and emotional health of their remote virtual teams is becoming a pressing health and wellbeing issue.

A highly informative webinar, ‘The stresses and strains of working in a virtual environment – a clinical perspective’, organised by health insurer WPA, brought together two clinical psychiatrists, Dr Dominic de Souza and Dr Filippo Passetti, to discuss the health and wellbeing challenges posed by virtual working, from ‘Zoom fatigue’ through to the risks of burnout, presenteeism, and carving out a sustainable home-office work-life balance. It highlighted that:

  • With home working now set to be a long-term, perhaps even permanent, transition for many, it is imperative that employers are putting in place strategies and tools for supporting the mental and emotional health of their teams.
  • There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution. It’s important that employers prioritise individualised solutions for both employees and their organisation.

The prospect of suddenly having to work from home was something many of us imagined would be little more than a temporary adjustment to a one-off public health emergency. However, nine months on it is clear virtual or remote working will be with us for many months yet, and may even become a permanent transition for some.

There can, of course, be positives about home working, such as no longer having a long or tiring commute. But, as the WPA webinar highlighted, virtual or home working can create its own challenges that employers need to be managing.

Support tools, tips and strategies

What then can employers do? Dr de Souza outlined some practical support tools, tips and strategies while Dr Passetti emphasised the need for employers to help employees to introduce ‘pockets’ of rest and recovery into their day.

Actions to consider include:

  • Limit ‘Zoom fatigue’ by encouraging/planning for short breaks between virtual meetings
  • Encourage your teams to mark a clear end to their working day; to separate ‘work time’ from ‘home time’
  • Consider one-to-one conversations to talk about how home working is working for them
  • Reassure and engage regularly with your staff so they feel confident to take time off if they’re unwell
  • Remind your teams to take breaks during the working day and allow for ‘recovery time’

Your local Healthcare Partner

I’m Jacqui Shaw, Director of Coralline Health Limited. We provide a discounted healthcare scheme for Devon & Plymouth Chamber of Commerce Members and are Appointed Representatives of WPA Healthcare Practice Plc. For helpful advice and assistance, contact me on 01803 855210 or email corallinehealth@hcp-plc.org.uk.

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