One of the biggest challenges for leaders and individuals while working from home is maintaining a balanced work and personal life. 40% of the U.S working population is working from home – creating a wave of new challenges and obstacles for organizations, families, and communities everywhere.
In addition to a national pandemic, the U.S has struggled with vast national turmoil, tensions, and obstacles that have increased individuals’ fear and mental health, especially persons of color. These external events affect productivity as it weighs heavily on emotional and mental health.
It is essential for managers, executives and team leaders to remain flexible and empathetic to everyone’s unique experiences during this time. To help your team members and organization best support and ensure employees receive equal support and create the best environment for positive mental health habits, integrate the following tips in your planning and practices.
- Be flexible with how they get the job done. Not everyone will have the same needs when it comes to working remotely. For example, ask each team member what their limitations may be with virtual video calls. Be open to some individuals preferring to keep their cameras off as it promotes privacy and allows them to feel safe and remain focused on work instead of worrying whether or not they will be judged or stereotyped based on their home surroundings. If video calls are necessary and cameras must be on consider designing a mandatory background that enhances privacy and will help decrease potential isolation due to exposure of personal backgrounds.
- Employees engage best in different ways. Some employees may be most productive on their own for several hours but could use a check in in the morning and/or afternoon to help them stay on task, connected and not overextended during the workday. Others may want to stay in touch with colleagues throughout the day through chat rooms like Slack. As always – give your employees room to be successful but know their strengths and weaknesses and where they will need additional help and support.
- Encourage employees to utilize existing benefits. Does your company already offer wellness benefits like workouts, yoga, and emotional and mental health services? Encourage employees to be familiar with the various wellness offerings and openly talk
about encouraging them to use these. Open conversations can “break the ice” and help employees see that utilizing these services is normal and a good way to practice self-care.
Here is a case example of these tips being put into practice. Anne is a manager with a team of seven employees who are now working from home until the summer of 2021. The entire team faces different challenges as it is a very diverse team of people from different backgrounds. Anne notices that a couple of the team members are not as vocal, and overall participation has decreased during meetings and some projects.
She talks with each employee individually, giving them space to describe the challenges specific to them. She learns that some of the employees have kids at home and feel uncomfortable during video calls because their home environment does not look professional. In addition, another team member says that she is distracted and feels overwhelmed due to events transpiring around the country. To improve the team’s success, Anne requires fewer video calls and offers more phone conferences. She encourages the overwhelmed employee to utilize company wellness benefits and talk to a professional therapist.
Each individual in your group requires a unique solution. Use these tips will to enhance the success of the individuals you work with and create a strong, high-functioning work environment even in difficult times.
Author: Annamarie Green, MSW, LLMSW
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