Navigating a period of significant disruption and change is daunting for any organisation and business leaders are on the frontline. The evolving situation relating to the Coronavirus pandemic is forcing companies to work in unfamiliar ways, with much of the UK workforce instructed to work remotely – for the most part from their own homes - where possible.
In the face of these unprecedented measures, it is to be expected that stress levels rise as we adapt to the “new normal” and workers find themselves detached from their teams and facing new challenges on a daily basis.
The following information and advice is geared at supporting directors as they manage the mental health of both themselves and their employees throughout the on-going Coronavirus crisis to reduce stress and provide a greater sense of physical and mental wellbeing during home working.
Remote Working: A health and safety approach
In partnership with the IoD, the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) have produced a series of guides and factsheets geared at helping businesses embrace home-working. Ensuring the mental and physical wellbeing of a workforce is absolutely crucial for businesses to thrive during periods of challenge and these practical, easy-to-implement guides give business leaders the tools they need to make the transition into remote working while considering the needs of their organisation.
Read the advice here, including tips on mental wellbeing, creating an ergonomic workstation from home and - crucially for business leaders - managing a remote workforce. There is also a handy guide on good leadership during the crisis.
Inclusive Business and Mental Health
Since 2017, the IoD has played an active role in highlighting the significance of mental health and wellbeing in the workplace through its dedicated mental health resources and – latterly – its Inclusive Business campaign.
Getting right to the heart of the challenges posed by the widespread adoption of working in isolation, the IoD policy team also produced a report last year dedicated to Managing Mental Health in Changing Business Models. Examining the link between the mental health of workers and the propensity for flexible working, this report is particularly relevant for businesses in the current climate. Read the full report here.
In April 2019, the institute published an action pack - Mapping Mental Health for Business Leaders - designed to equip Directors with the tools they need to start thinking seriously about mental health in the workplace and how it might affect their organisation. Inside this pack, you will find various resources relating to the mental health of both yourself and your business; particularly of note is the Directory of help that is available, as well as top tips for keeping a healthy mind at work.
Wellbeing: Tips for success
Campaign partner and leading mental health charity Mind have produced some fantastic practical resources specifically in relation to the Coronavirus pandemic, delivered through their Mental Health at Work gateway. This dedicated toolkit covers advice and support across a wide range of topics including coping strategies and reading relating to remote working, healthy work life balance, dealing with the mental fallout from self-isolation and tackling the anxieties brought about by such a period of uncertainty.
In March, MHFA launched its My Whole Self campaign, aimed at encouraging businesses to foster an inclusive workplace culture. In light of the heightened potential for miscommunication and the feeling of detachment as we shift to embrace the realities of a predominantly remote-based workforce, this is perhaps more important than ever. Supporting this theory, the MHFA have now released this handy guide for keeping minds (and bodies) healthy in the current climate.
Putting in place practical support for the mental wellbeing of employees does not require business leaders or line managers to turn counsellor or therapist; although fostering an open and inclusive work environment can be of immeasurable benefit to an organisation’s mental health and wellbeing.
When it is time to engage an expert, however, trained professionals are there to deliver these services, and many businesses provide employee access to them using an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP). Find out more about how you can set one up for your business here.
Now perhaps more than ever, with a dramatic shift towards working from home, it is important to keep sight of what constitutes a healthy work life balance. In this hyper-connected world, where - for many - their spare bedroom, living or dining room has just become their workspace, it can be hard to distinguish the line between work and play. These helpful tips are worth bearing in mind, when trying to keep your personal and professional roles in check - to avoid long working hours and days and to prioritise personal time.