Whether your team is working from home due to the pandemic, or you’re fully distributed, remote work hasn’t come without its backlash on employee mental health.
Due to long hours online, disconnection from coworkers, and substandard work set-ups that can strain the body, mental well-being is waning for remote workers.
Luckily, there are practical ways to address these health risks to ensure optimal health on and off the clock.
Let’s dig in.
Working from home can take a toll on remote workers’ mental well-being, with loneliness from social isolation, stress, and sleep problems being leading concerns.
Even before the start of the pandemic, remote employees’ mental health was iffy.
A study by Buffer found that 22% found it difficult to unplug after work, 19% suffered from loneliness, and 8% had difficulties staying motivated.
COVID-19 only exacerbated these issues, while presenting more simultaneously.
Research from the Royal Society of Public Health found that 67% of people feel less connected to colleagues, 59% feel more isolated from coworkers, and 56% found it harder to switch off after moving to working from home due to the pandemic. The same study also found that 37% of respondents had sleep problems.
By picking up some healthy habits, remote workers can successfully circumvent any potential mental health risks that may arise. Tips include to:
Stressors to the physical body can also have a toll on employee mental health and well-being.
The most common physical health ailment that’s scientifically proven to have a direct correlation with decreased mental health is musculoskeletal pain. (It often arises from a combination of poor desk set-up, an unsupportive chair, and lack of movement.)
In an Italian study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 41.2% of remote workers reported low back pain, while 23.5% reported neck pain. Moreover, half of participants said their neck pain worsened since working from home.
Unsurprisingly, these home workers suffering with musculoskeletal pain reported lower job satisfaction. They were also found to have an increased risk for mental health problems.
Home workers suffering with musculoskeletal pain were found to have an increased risk for mental health problems.
Even though the study was small (51 participants), it poses concerns for those trying to minimize health risks from remote working while staying safe at home.
Similarly, eye strain is also a common complaint of remote workers, due to sustained focus on screens. Computer Vision Syndrome can cause symptoms such as headaches, blurred vision, dry eyes, and neck and shoulder pain.
Encourage employees to alleviate physical pains by doing the following:
Increased levels of stress, feelings of isolation, sleep problems, musculoskeletal pain, and eye strain are just a handful of the health problems that can damage employee mental health.
Nevertheless, acknowledging they’re happening is the first step to recovery.
Encourage your remote team members to give themselves the time and space to understand when their physical and mental well-being may be waning. Also, ask them how they’re feeling.
From there, you’ll be able to work out a solution that’s mutually beneficial for all parties involved while still allowing a healthy work-life balance.
Oyster is a distributed HR platform designed to enable visionary HR leaders to find, hire, pay, manage, develop and take care of a thriving distributed workforce. It lets growing companies give valued international team members the experience they deserve, without the usual headaches or the expense.
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