There is no denying that the COVID-19 pandemic has demanded a more flexible side from all of us. For most employees, this has meant not only a physical change in their working environment, but also a mental and social one. Employees who have remained attending workplaces, although potentially accompanied by a few colleagues, may find themselves in more isolating positions. In addition, and perhaps even more obviously isolated, are employees who are working from home and live alone. Employees working from home face alternate challenges and distractions compared to those in their usual working environment. Some homes may be places where employees are surrounded by extended family, including children or elderly members, or people who may not be the best company to be around.
It is not unusual that as a result of the pandemic, not only work lives but many aspects of employee’s lives have been impacted. This is a time for employees to communicate with their employers about how their circumstances are changing and how they are coping, what they need from their employer and how they can be supported remotely.
Employees should be open and honest about concerns, struggles or positive points that they find have influenced them or their work. This communication will influence employees’ work lives moving forward, including coming out of this pandemic time. Employees should not be disheartened if they are feeling a somewhat off-balance or uncertain as they and their colleagues likely adapt and respond to situations in different ways.
Employee mental health and wellbeing is just as important as physical health. Employees should not hesitate to reach out and ask for help, or just check in and have a chat with each other. Some employees may already be in a situation where they are living with mental illness or may experience an exacerbation of their illness due to changes in their environment or circumstances as a result of the pandemic, and it is important to reflect on these aspects.
Some pointers to keeping conscious of your health and wellbeing as an employee:
- Create a new routine for yourself that adjusts to your new working environment;
- Get out of the house for fresh air and move your body as often as you can around work, as this is likely greatly lacking, particularly for those working from home;
- Separate your work and home spaces, where possible, and ensure you completely switch off from work at the end of your work day
Take away: Just because the workplace may be an employee’s home or look a bit different to how it used to, this does not take away from the employer’s obligation to ensure a safe and healthy working environment and employees should not be discouraged from raising these topics as part of a consultation process if they have questions or concerns.
If you have concerns about workplace practices and procedures that could be affecting your wellbeing, contact the Anderson Gray team today.