To continue reading please register or login to your OHW+ account.
Whether employees are being brought back into the workplace, still working from home, or doing a combination of both, the mental health and wellbeing effects of loneliness and isolation will need to be a priority for many employers in the coming months. The mantra for our ‘new normal’ will need to be ‘out of sight, front of mind’, argues Malcolm Tullett.
For many of us, working life as we knew it may never return to the pre-Covid ‘normal’ and a new, different workplace will need to be navigated.
Organisations adapted and prioritised how to manage their businesses and staff, both on site and remotely. Many individuals may have enjoyed (or endured) nearly 18 months of working at home. Limited contact with work teams has been virtual and probably lacked most of the social interactions and banter which exist in the workplace.
Depending on the personality of staff members, some have thrived and enjoyed remote working. No commuting, no need to make ‘polite conversation’, less unnecessary interruptions and being able to get stuck into the task in hand often at the crack of dawn or late at night. Perfect for early birds and night owls!
However, most of us are sociable beings who need interaction with others, an imposed work routine, and being able to get out of the home. Remote working has been both challenging, and in some cases damaging. Existing mental health issues may have been exacerbated whilst anxiety and depression have significantly impacted on individuals for the first time.
Managing both scenarios to ensure staff wellbeing will require time, empathy and skill from senior managers and occupational health teams. There will be ‘no size fits all’ and consistent and well- planned staff communications and monitoring will be needed to put care with a big ‘C’ into the duty of care role and responsibilities.
Need for emotional intelligence
Failure to do this could result in costly employment and discrimination claims. Putting additional support and processes in place and adopting an ‘out of sight, front of mind’ approach might be a prudent and important strategy for organisations.