Now many weeks into lockdown, most of us are adapting well to the new way of working and being social in more creative ways. It is without doubt that for everyone it has been a struggle at times and although the lockdown parameters will be loosening over the next month, it is still a very challenging time for staff, managers, colleagues, parents, families and children.
COVID-19 is a truly global experience with so many countries clearly affected and having to adapt as best they can. Each household has its own unique set of challenges with individuals self-isolating on their own, single parents working and trying their best to manage alone, large families having both parents working and juggling childcare with the disappearance of supports like school or day care and having to try and work and educate at the same time. There are also many people isolating by themselves and at times challenged by the loneliness and repetitiveness of each day.
The stress and strain on everyone is real and is being felt in all households throughout the country. So, it is extremely important to be mindful when connecting with colleagues and staff working from home, to be conscious and alert to some of what is happening for them emotionally, psychologically, and physically.
After the first two weeks of lockdown in the UK, a working from home survey produced these results:
– 60% exercising less
– 60% more fatigued
– 64% acknowledge that worry is affecting sleep
– 41% health concerns for family
Now after 4-6 weeks in, survey stats are showing that:
- 44% of people currently working from home find they are working longer hours and finding it hard to switch off from work
- 51% of employees find that they are interrupted during their working day by family members and that multiple roles placed on parents is very challenging
- 79% of employees surveyed are missing their usual working environments
- 89% say missing the socialising with work colleagues ranked as the main reason for this
Spotting employees who are struggling or stressed
*10 Signs an employee may be suffering from stress and anxiety during COVID-19
1. Late to meetings, taking more time off work than usual or general regular lack of communication
2. Greater obvious use of substances such as alcohol, tobacco
3. Increased irritability, poor concentration, reduced productivity
4. Deteriorating personal or work relationships, as experienced directly or indicated by others
5. More ‘emotional’, moody or over-reactive to what others say
6. Acting differently or unusually, that is out of the norm for them, or not being their usual self
7. Changing of eating or sleep patterns and personal appearance such as visible hygiene indicators – consistently not caring so much about appearance
8. Physical reactions such as sweating, fast paced breathing, very nervous, talking anxiously most of the time
9. Feeling continually low, depressed, and focusing on negatives, preoccupied with Covid 19
10. Overly tired and fatigued
What can you do?
If you are worried or concerned about someone’s health and wellbeing, or have received feedback from others who are concerned, the first thing to do is arrange some time to talk with the person one to one, and in the most private and confidential setting as possible. Let them know that you are connecting with them to talk about how they are finding working from home during this challenging time.
Explore what is happening for them and specific areas they are struggling with.
Check in on their wellbeing by asking about their general daily routine and if they are making time to connect with others regularly and getting out to do some exercise.
If you have some concerns, discuss with the person what your concerns are specifically.
Let them know that you are there to help support them and explore ways of doing this. Ask them how you can best help and if they are struggling to come up with ideas, suggest somethings you can do based on the areas that were discussed. Agree a plan and offer various supports available in your organisation such as EAP (Employee Assistance Programme) and ensure you agree to meet again soon after. Agree regular ongoing support meetings for a while, to see positive change occurring.
*Ref: Hughes, R., (2013) 10 Signs an employee may be suffering from stress and anxiety, British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) – adapted from.