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Working From Home is Impacting Mental Health

There’s a good chance you’re reading this from home. The vast majority of us have set up shop in our kitchens, living rooms and, if we’re lucky, spare bedrooms, to conduct business as usual. Some of us are alone, free to use our space as we please, while others are making concessions with partners, relatives, roommates, or kids.

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And this long-term inconvenience pales in comparison to how some other people have been impacted by COVID-19. An estimated 81 million jobs were lost throughout Asia Pacific, adding to a looming sense of fear and uncertainty about job security. Combined with virus anxiety, lockdown fatigue, financial stress, and the inability to separate personal and professional roles, mental health issues are fast becoming a crisis.

The good news is that COVID-19 has pushed employee well-being to the front and centre with special emphasis on mental health. Poor mental health, like depression, anxiety and increased stress leads to increased absenteeism, presenteeism and reduced engagement, all of which directly impact productivity and a company’s bottom line. As such, employers are taking a particular interest in improving their team’s well-being with a larger view of business success.

Three ways mental health is impacted directly

  1. People are more isolated
    A lack of physical connection and a feeling of being trapped can leave employees all alone without a sufficient support system.
  2. No work-life balance
    Employees are reportedly logging on for longer, forgetting lunch breaks, and feeling pressured by micro-managing superiors who demand constant attention.
  3. Excessive fatigue
    Frequent scheduled or impromptu meetings and increased workload while simultaneously caring for family members are causing burnout.
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Even before the pandemic Asians reportedly worked longer hours. Now that we are living and working in the same space, the “always-on” work culture is amplified. And it doesn’t help that technology has permeated every aspect of our lives. 44% of Malaysians are unhappy with their current quality of life and job happiness has dropped 27% when compared to pre-COVID times. The 9-to-5 workday no longer makes sense and burnt-out employees are left feeling like they have even less personal time than when they wasted hours commuting.

Practical changes to quickly boost employee mental health

  1. Introduce ten-minute breaks between meetings and meeting-free days each month to lessen the psychological pressure of constantly being online.
  2. Smaller meetings can encourage participants to connect with their teams and be acknowledged for contributions personally. Regular one-on-one catch-ups with team members and organised social events both virtually (or in-person where possible) can also ease isolation.
  3. Clear communication and understanding of boundaries can help alleviate stress, especially for those without a separate home office or have children around.
  4. A strict no calls after-hours rule and no emails on the weekends can help maintain personal and professional roles.

Temporary work-from-home measures are shifting to more permanent flexible work arrangements in many organisations. This is why it’s important to highlight that each new policy is an opportunity to consider the health and well-being of a remote team, while still prioritising business success.

A great place to start is the de-stigmatisation of help-seeking. Where once employees were hesitant to be honest about any struggles for fear of having their livelihood jeopardised, the most resilient employers have taken the lead, to show their teams that support is available without judgement.

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The future of mental health at work

With employees exhibiting signs of burn-out, insomnia, anxiety, stress, loneliness, and depression, balancing employee needs with company output is forcing employers to recognise their part in the social and personal fabric of their employee’s lives, and placing a business priority on valuing employee mental health. Studies show that employees respond better to companies that support them, both in their career and in their overall wellness.

More and more companies are offering employee assistance programs that include unlimited sick days and mental health days off. Sponsored access to therapy sessions, mindfulness training, and digital health services like Naluri can help bridge the mental health gap between employer and employee.

By offering employees trusted, clinically validated solutions that support their physical and mental well-being, teams experience quantifiable health improvements that in turn optimise company output and productivity while minimising costs. This combination of behavioural science and data science helps companies build healthy work environments that will define the future of the workforce.

Reach out to or schedule a demo for more information about how Naluri can support employee well-being in your company.

Writen by:
Chloe Pharamond