Undeniably, the benefits of working remotely are countless. However, working remotely could also lead to working longer hours with little breaks and social isolation. Overworking and isolation cause increased stress, which could fuel physical problems, as well as mental health problems such as loneliness and depression.
It's important to assess how you're caring for yourself and that you are taking steps to ensure that you are safeguarding your mental well-being. See below for some ways you can stay mentally healthy while working remotely.
Don’t just use technology for work – use it to keep in touch with friends and family, whether through voice calls, video conferencing, instant messaging or emails.
After all, we are social creatures who benefit from love, attention, support and comfort. A reduction in social connections can be disorienting, even destabilising.
Yes, it can be challenging to drag ourselves out of the comfort of our workspace, but it is important to keep moving (physically, not just moving your mouse).
It can be as simple as walking from one room to another, stretching, or a quick workout session (there are so many easy-to-follow workouts online). Setting aside 20-30 minutes to exercise daily can help to significantly reduce anxiety and stimulate feelings of happiness.
Just think about all those airline videos that instruct people to wear their own oxygen masks before attending to others. You must take care of yourself first before helping others.
If you are unwell or experiencing burn out, you will ultimately slow the whole team down. Instead, take this chance to care for yourself and practise social responsibility by taking a break. Once you have recuperated, you can return to action.
Having a healthy lifestyle – eating well, sleeping enough, exercising and engaging in leisure activities – and learning when to say “no”, is all part of self-care.
If employees aren’t feeling their best, then they won’t be working at their best either. In fact, according to the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, leaders and employees alike can benefit from boosted wellness – companies on average save $353 of regained productivity per employee with successful wellness programs.
You should check in with your team regularly – either via video conferencing or through your team chat – and ask how they’re coping. You could also encourage the team to support one another or initiate games and activities to allow for social interaction.
When you start to be open about your personal challenges, whether mental-health-related or not, it makes you appear human, relatable, and brave. Research has shown that authentic leadership can cultivate trust and improve employee engagement and performance.
Actions speak louder than words. Ensure that you are communicating the importance of self-care and setting boundaries to your team. You could share a picture of your walk in the middle of the day, encourage your team to join you on a 5-minutes workout sesh, or prioritise a staycation (and actually turning off email) so that you don’t burn out.
As hybrid and remote teams become the new normal, it’s important to remember to care for yourself and look out for your team members, so that you can navigate the virtual work environment with compassion and empathy. Prioritising our mental well-being will ultimately help us make the most out of working remotely, and build stronger teams.
…and what exactly should you be investing in?
New ways of work require new approaches to help leaders connect with their team.