How to maintain the mental health of remote engineers
Nowadays the great majority of companies work fully remotely. Whenever it is possible they give their employees the choice to work from home. Most people find it very attractive due to various reasons: family life, saving time spent on commuting, better working conditions, less noise, lack of distractors, etc. At the very beginning, people are usually over the moon that they can stay at home and work. Most of them are not aware of upcoming challenges and difficulties.
Although homeworking has dozens of advantages one should also be very cautious and watch out for dangers.
Isolation and Loneliness
After a couple of weeks or months, when home becomes an office, employees can start feeling isolated. They miss their colleagues, the possibility to have a coffee or lunch together, meet after work and celebrate.
Even daily meetings via Internet will not replace direct contact with co-workers.
Anxiety and Stress
After some time, one can find it hard to work and live it the same place. They start feeling stress and pressure that they should be available all the time. They try to manage work duties and family obligations and may feel anxious that sometimes they need to devote to only one area. Very often they do not know when to finish work, they do not turn their devices off, and frequently check the mail box.
Anxiety, stress, loneliness, and isolation can lead to depression. People feel stuck and it causes a loss of productivity. They feel frustration, irritation, loss of interest, sleep disturbance, tiredness, restlessness, trouble concentrating, and physical problems.
Fortunately, there are many ways to prevent it or solve already existing problems.
One should take care of the teams’ mental health and convince them that they do not need to suffer any more. What can be done?
1. Conduct mental health training and sessions
Each company should start taking employees’ mental health as seriously as physical health. If people suffer from anxiety, they cannot give their best performance and need some time to recover.
It is recommended to provide virtually mental health training and sessions. Corporate mental health training should cover more practical topics that focus on preventing stress and burnout. There is a number of experts who lead online mental health information sessions. The goal of mental health training should be to open conversations about mental health and equip people with tools to create a safe, engaged, and productive workplace.
2. Use technology to stay connected with teams
It’s important to stay connected with your team in a remote working world. As we discussed above, people can struggle with loneliness when working from home. Tools and technologies can help to reduce lack of personal contact with other co-workers.
It is important to encourage employees to talk to others also for non-work-related issues. It will help them to feel less isolated.
Another good idea to strengthen bonds is to organize a virtual video room to celebrate together for example when someone has birthday. One can share sweet birthday greetings and wishes to make the person feel extra special.
3. Ask employees to take regular breaks
A healthy schedule includes breaks. Most of us are unaccustomed to looking at a screen for eight hours straight. Remote employees may feel guilty if they log out when there is still work to be done or if they take a break.
This inability to unplug can negatively affect the mental health of remote workers. They may burn themselves out. Company should help employees to achieve work-life balance by encouraging them to take regular breaks.
4. Contact them regularly
Regular contact with employees helps to avoid misunderstandings. Moreover, people start feeling worried about their performance. It is a good idea to organize short check-in meetings at the beginning of each week to keep everyone in the loop. Encourage small-talk and personal conversations during work meetings. It’s a great way to know your employees’ personalities.
5. Upgrade their home office
Workspace and environment around have huge impact on peoples’ work. Remind them to arrange their closest surrounding in a comfortable way. It increases comfort of work and productivity. The workspace should be pleasing and functional.
6. Encourage physical fitness
While spending long hours in front of computer, it is really important to take care of physical fitness. It boosts mood, reduces stress and tension, relieves anxiety and improves good sleep. One should encourage employees to do some exercises like stretching, Yoga, walking, riding a bike.
7. Appreciate and reward good work
People who work from home and have less contact with others do not get feedback regarding their work as frequently as before. That is why they lose motivation. One should remember to appreciate their good work. Even a simple message with few nice words and smile is enough to make them feel that their effort is noticed.
8. Create a sense of community and belonging
Employees should feel that they create a team. Although each of them can located in different part of the world they need to feel support. It is important to emphasise that they can ask for help whenever they want. People should share their emotions, experiences, self-care strategies. Openness and empathy are crucial to create strong community.
At VSTORM Team Community we follow these practices and maintain our team mood. If you want to join us, send us your CV