Mental health and wellbeing wfh.jpg

Mental health and wellbeing when working from home

Health promotion for workers:

Encourage healthy sleeping 

Workers should try to have plenty of sleep.  This can help workers to stay healthy, be more productive and to recover if they develop or have had symptoms of Covid-19 or other illnesses. 

Stand regularly

Remote workspaces may be different from usual working environment set-ups.

It is important for workers to take regular rest breaks and to stand up often to experience health benefits.

Extra movements including stretching and physical exercise can enhance the health benefits. For more general information on standing at work and the associated health effects, see here.

Eat nutritious food where possible 

A healthy diet can help the body fight off infection and raise overall health levels.

Encourage workers to partake in controlled breathing exercises 

Deep and controlled breathing can help workers to relax when stressedThe process also switches brain activity to a different  section of the brainwhich encourages more rational decision-making processes. 

Encourage workers to allow ultraviolet (UV) light into rooms 

UV can help workers to feel less isolated and can help eliminate feelings of loneliness.

Encourage good standards of hygiene 

Educate workers in the importance of good personal hygiene and maintaining clean work equipment, eg wiping keyboards with cleaning products. Encourage workers to follow government public health advice regarding hygiene. 

Encourage workers to plan their upcoming financial situation and offer support where possible 

Workers may need to adopt and plan for short-term lifestyle changes to consolidate or utilise finances more efficiently. Offering support for this task may help to reduce the potential for unhealthy stress levels. 

Adopt a positive mindset and provide positive yet realistic messages:

Provide positive information to workers 

It is still important to educate workers about the virus and its symptoms. However, this can be supported withpositive stories and positive images of people who have experienced Covid-19 and have recovered or who have supported somebody through recovery. This can create more positive mindsets and provide rationality, logical thinking and reassurance. 

Reassure workers with positive messages 

Inform workers that it is ok to be fearful, apprehensive, angry and frustrated in the given situation. These are normal responses. However, encourage workers to accept the current situation, consider multiple factors (all the received information), focus on positive media stories and to think calmly, rationally and logically. Offer support. 

Motivate workers through praise

Ensure that workers are rewarded for their work. Workers may be naturally fearful, and a morale boost can help to raise wellbeing to a more positive stateA simple ‘well done’ or a ‘smile’ (whilst on a teleconferencing call for example) can make a difference. 

Control workloads and deadlines:

Provide varied tasks (if possible) — try to offer some variety of work to allow dynamic thinking and working. This will help to provide fresh cognitive challenges and allow workers to feel stimulated, motivated, and productive.

Allow flexibility 

To help workers manage their own health and that of others allow them to take extra rest breaks if required and to address other concerns or issues alongside their remote working. Ensure that work deadlines and timescales are reasonable as this will help to reduce stress. 

Consider terminology and social labelling:

Do not use derogatory, damning or social labelling terminology

Individuals should not be referred to as ‘Covid cases’, ‘Covid victims’, ‘Covid families’, etc as this can have negative social effects. It can also cause individuals to feel victimised, social outcasts and isolated in a time of isolation.

Advise on information gathering:

Provide clear and positive information to workers

Help to deter workers from obtaining information from negative or unaccredited sources, such as that sometimes found on social media platforms.

Encourage workers to listen and follow public advice

The government will provide ongoing updates and general public advice. Organisations can reinforce such messages and ensure that the correct advice is distributed to its workers. 

Advise on when to seek public health information 

Advise workers to seek public advice at specific times during the day (once or twice a day) and from reputable sources. This can help to reduce the overwhelming amount of potentially fearful information. It can also help organisations to supply positive information and messages. 

For more information on mental health and psychosocial considerations during the Covid-19 outbreak, see the World Health Organization (WHO)