Even before COVID, mental health-related absence was recognised to be the most common cause of long-term sickness absence in UK workplaces. According to research by the Mind Charity, more than half of adults (60%) said their mental health declined during the first national lockdown. We know that there is a wealth of articles out there on the best practices for working at home, but how can employers practically help their staff during this second lockdown?

Working from home can feel incredibly isolating so we have compiled a list of practical tips on how you can help your team:

1. Keep in touch

Schedule regular team meetings or huddles to promote a sense of togetherness, video is a great way to bring this to life and ensures nobody falls through the cracks of not being included. It is a great idea to arrange social face-to-face gatherings as well as purely business meetings.

Make sure that you have regular 1-2-1 meetings with employees so that they can raise any concerns privately.

Face-to-face contact helps bring interactions to life but is also a great way to monitor if somebody's body language and demeanour has changed, which may be a sign that something is wrong.

2. Be there

Communication is key so make sure that you are easily contactable, you can use Microsoft Teams chat and status functionality so that your team know when you are available to catch up on an ad hoc basis.

3. Monitor activity and performance

A change in an individual's performance at work can be an early indicator of a shift in their mental health. As well as making it easier to spot if somebody is distancing themselves from you or the team, Microsoft Teams can give you visibility of when your team are online and help you spot unusual patterns of behaviour.

4. Promote the importance of work/life balance

WFH can easily blur the lines between work and home life, increasing the chances of burnout and increased stress. Promoting the importance of switching off from work by scheduling in breaks on team calendars and utilising status messages on Teams to show when people are uncontactable for work matters will help individuals to navigate the implications of working away from the office.

5. Empower people with the right tools

Whether employees require access to their desktops, CRM or cloud applications, telephones or simply space for them to collaborate; it is likely that not everyone will have the ideal setup at home to facilitate the most efficient use of all the tools they require. Make sure that you take time to communicate with people about what their home setup is, it is hard enough working from home without the added stress of substandard tools and systems to what they are used to in the office.

2 Circles are here to help with the technology side of things, you can call us on 03456 200 200 or email info@2circles.com. We'd love to hear from you but most importantly, we hope that whatever your work situation at the moment; you are finding the best way to cope with it.