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HEALTH| 15.01.2021

The mental health challenges of lockdown and remote working

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One of the key concerns of businesses continues to be how to maintain employees’ morale and mental well-being throughout the restrictions on movement imposed first by the pandemic, and now also by the snowstorm. 

The following report by the British publication Insider Engage reveals some of the creative solutions being explored by companies to keep their people motivated and happy. The article includes the perspective of Eva Rodríguez, Assistant Director of Diversity, Health and Well-being at MAPFRE.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies have kept their responsibility to care for their employees by encouraging them to maintain a boundary between home and work, whether by walking their pets, taking their children to the park, going for a walk or bike ride, or any other type of exercise.

Eva Rodríguez“Long periods of lockdown are expected to cause psychosocial and ergonomic issues,” says Eva Rodríguez, Assistant Director of Diversity, Health and Well-being of the People and Organization Area at MAPFRE. Aware of the impact of the situation on employee well-being, MAPFRE immediately arranged and implemented contingency plans.

As Rodríguez explained to the magazine, “MAPFRE has been concerned with this issue from the outset and, as a result, our employees have not had significant problems beyond the logical difficulty of balancing work and family care during lockdown — especially when it comes to young children and dependents.”

Employers should be aware of some of the long-term effects of the current situation, not just in the workplace but also in the broader social sense. “It’s lasting much longer than was expected,” admitted Rodríguez, highlighting that the greatest risk to the working-age population stems from “anxiety, depression and stress caused by the lack of certainty.”

The expert suggested that the most effective way to reduce this risk is to create an environment that is “as close to normal as possible,” while continuing to respect the necessary health and safety measures. The article contains a complete guide to the lessons learned during the last few months:

  1. Employers have recognized that home working doesn’t equate to not working.
  2. Remote working hours should be carefully managed to minimize the feeling of burnout.
  3. Other colleagues’ commitments outside work must be respected when planning personnel rotation.
  4. Greater flexibility is needed, especially in winter, to allow employees to get physical exercise.
  5. Regular and varied communication is key to keeping personnel engaged and motivated.
  6. Reopening offices provides a great benefit for those whose home situation is not conducive to remote working.
  7. Virtual social events and networks are crucial in order to stay connected and maintain a sense of team spirit.
  8. Online well-being resources, support programs and volunteering opportunities can boost employees’ well-being and sense of purpose.
  9. Online training and mentoring schemes are important for employees and also increase a company’s appeal.
  10. Well-being and flexible working policies are likely to become a permanent fixture within most businesses.

All the evidence suggests that in the run-up to the holidays last year and in this first quarter of 2021, drastic changes have been seen in relation to the challenges of preserving employees’ mental health and motivation.

Read the full article here.