Photo by Nik Shuliahin
Mental health is a topic that has been discussed extensively in the past few years. Although physical health is one that receives more and more attention, being mentally fit is something that many simply assume is easy to do. The truth is that most of us will struggle, one day or another, with mental-health related issues. So the question remains: how can you, as an employer, help your remote employees be at peak mental health at all times? As your employees are not always in the office (or even in the same city as you!), it can be challenging to notice when things seem to be going not-so-well. So, I have prepared this article to give you advice on how to be a better boss. Throughout this blog post, you will find some information on how to help your employees avoid burnout, how to encourage them to strive for their goals in both their work and private lives, and ultimately, how to make sure to have good mental health.
First of all, did you know that remote work can help an employee's mental health? Indeed, giving your employees the ability to either work from home or from their favourite café is a great way to help them reduce work-induced stress. Often, employees that feel high levels of stress at the workplace will tend to cope by resorting to feeling-numbing substances, such as drugs or alcohol1. These, in turn, can increase feelings of loneliness and depression. Therefore, having your employees work remotely once in a while can give them more space and time to work at their own speed, without the external pressure, and without the surrounding stress associated with the workplace.
Second, working remotely is terrific in some instances and can support good mental health; likewise, it can lead your employees to burnout. This is a topic that has also been all the rage: remote workers and entrepreneurs working themselves to burnout, or a "state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress"2. This tends to occur to employees that work entirely remotely because of the lack of a proper workplace and fuzzy working hours. To this, I encourage you to help your employees in three different ways.
1. Make your working hours clear, and explain that you will not be available between those times.
Now, of course, if your team is located all over the world, you might think that this is not possible as you must be able to respond to emails and texts when others are awake. To this, I say: not anymore! With Standups Stories, you can update your team via videos and can keep them on the loop without having to be awake. Additionally, it is simply unrealistic to think that you will stay awake to answer all emails and pins, this will lead you to burnout!
2. Ask your employees to state their working hours and to make them clear to the rest of the team.
As someone with experience in remote work, I can say that it is easy to get lost in the 'constant work loop'. Because most of my communications take place online on different platforms and on the phone, I wake up with missed notifications, go to sleep with messages that need to be answered, and know that I will receive messages over the weekend. That's the reality of remote work: because it has no set place, it can quickly become a 24/7 business. This, however, can easily lead on to burnout as well! For this, you can encourage your employees to make their working hours clear and to state that they will not be responsive between those times. This is a feature Standups offers too!
Furthermore, you can also invite them to put their devices on 'Do Not Disturb' once they are not on these times. Additionally, they might find themselves struggling to put their phone down when they receive messages from work. So, encouraging them to acquire a different phone solely dedicated to the business can help them relieve some of this stress.
3. Get them out of the house!
Working remotely tends to be associated with "working from home", although this does not have to be true. If one works only a few hours per week, this can work. Otherwise, it can become overwhelming to stay at home all day. Think about it: would you like to associate work to where you live and relax as well? It can quickly become overwhelming, and can feel like you are trapped in one place! Instead, encourage them to work at a coworking space, or even just in a café. Giving them a monthly amount they can spend on either a membership or a coffee can make a big difference in their productivity, motivation, and ultimately, mental health.
4. Support their flexible schedule.
Make sure to support your employee's schedule. If they work remotely, perhaps asking them to be working a 9-5 is not necessary, especially if they get more done in four hours than they would in a full day stuck in the same place. Instead, make sure to let them know what your expectations are. You may find that allowing them to organise their own schedule leads them to be more productive in a shorter time.
5. Give them an 'Unsick' Day
This idea was introduced by Buffer: an 'Unsick' day where employees get to visit each of their doctor's offices to make sure that everything is going well. This may sound somewhat peculiar, but think about it. If you work 9 to 5 every day, when are you supposed to go to the doctor? This can be complemented by our feature, Time Off, that makes sure your employee does not feel overwhelmed by messages when they are on sick (or Unsick) leave.
Ultimately, our biggest tip is again to communicate and to be present with your remote workers. This way, you can make sure that you understand that they may feel lonely or left aside if they do not work in the same city, or even country. For this, why not connect them with other contacts you have in their area? Or, encourage them to join platforms like Internations to meet other remote workers in their area. We're hopeful that this article was helpful to you and gave you some insights on how to avoid burnout, and hence how to support your employees' mental healths.