For the past few months, the focus in the business world has been on ensuring that workplaces are safe enough for employees during the pandemic. Endeavours have been on determining if employees can work from home or not. Companies have been drafting COVID-19 response policies while ensuring that there is enough awareness, sanitizer as well as PPE equipment for employees.
When it was decided that offices should be closed indefinitely as part of employee health and safety, one aspect of a healthy work environment was neglected – that is employee wellness and the psychological effects of working from home during a pandemic. Home “offices” became a breeding ground for various mental issues. Those who worked from home during the lockdown reported feelings of anxiety, isolation, and fear.
What made these mental issues even worse was the lack of human interaction. Although video platforms were common, everyone was expected to put up a professional front and only business and bottom lines were discussed.
What people needed during that time was in-person communication, assurance, and connection with industry peers. Now that we are past that, what people need now is a positive work environment that simultaneously addresses individual, environmental, and organisational factors that affect worker wellbeing.
What people need is a base where they can have limited in-person interactions. A base where they can come into to get work done without being interrupted. A base where they can quickly catch up and discuss project notes with colleagues before logging into their next video meeting.
As we navigate this new normal and the ways in which it has changed employee wellness, organisations should consider:
Remember that everyone is different; what works for a particular employee, may not necessarily work for others. Get to know your employees and find out whether a hands-on approach or more independence will help them. And now that we are living in a new normal, determine if remote, in-office or rotating working arrangements work for them.
A healthy workplace environment involves the physical environment of the office – which is now a kitchen table, guest bedroom, lounge, or little corner in someone’s home. It is important to reduce the worry of your employees by ensuring that they don’t feel disconnected because of the lack of person-to-person communication, that they are able to unplug at the end of each day and that they have a place they can escape to, to get some work done should they need to.
The organisational culture
To maintain the mental health of employees, organisations are expected to provide support, especially during this time of crisis. Insufficient organisational support to handle stress may lead to low productivity and low work morale. Organisational support can exist in the form of a supportive boss, manager or work buddy. Constantly checking in on each other is important.
At the end of the day, a healthy workplace depends on its people and environment. Now that we find ourselves in separate environments, it is important to ensure that we make a way to connect. One of those ways could be a base office at Flexispace – a place where a workforce can come in, catch up, collaborate on important projects and get some work done uninterrupted.
Contact us on 010 443 8770 or get in touch with Geoff on 083 626 0400 to tailor make a solution that works for you and your workforce.