We are living in unprecedented times and having to adjust rapidly to a new way of life. Many of us are worrying about the current situation around coronavirus and how it might affect our lives both now and in the future. It’s likely that we’ll be working from home for longer periods of time to help keep us all safe during the coronavirus outbreak. Therefore, it’s important we recognise how it may affect our mental health and ensure we are taking care of ourselves and our colleagues.
Here are six tips for line managers about how they can support their team’s wellbeing as well as their own while working remotely or from home.
- Maintain a positive work/life balance and encourage your team to do the same
It’s easy to work longer hours and take fewer breaks when working from home. Why not put a reminder in your diary when you plan to finish working? You can also make sure you take at least a 30-minute lunch break. If you can, try to get some fresh air and go for a short walk. And encourage your team to do the same. Try not to schedule any meetings during lunchtime so that they can take a break and get outside. It’s important you look after your own wellbeing so you can also be there to support your team.
- Schedule regular check-ins with team members
Working from home can be isolating so ensure that you and your team have regular check-ins virtually. Find an online tool that works for your team – whether it’s Microsoft teams, Google Hangouts, a conference call facility like Skype, Zoom or by phone.
Make sure these regular check-ins are scheduled in advance with your team members: have some daily scheduled chat time with each of them and regular time in the diary as a team. It seems obvious but don’t forget to ask them how they’re doing and allow them time to talk about how they’re feeling before talking about work and what tasks need doing.
And don’t forget to ask your own manager for regular check-ins too.
- Establish new ways of working
Having to work remotely will require careful consideration as to how you will deliver work as a team. This includes thinking about which collaborative working platforms will be used, how you will communicate and how you support each other through challenges. Some of it might be trial and error so it is also important to think about how you will reflect on what’s working and what isn’t.
- Encourage your team to create Wellness Action Plans
This is an uncertain and worrisome time for many. Some of your team may need additional support. One way to help understand who may need additional support is by encouraging your team to complete a Wellness Action Plan (WAP) and ask them to share this with you. You can download a free Wellness Action Plan on our website. There is one for line managers and one for staff.
If they already have one then it would be helpful to review it in light of recent developments and changes. This can be looked at and kept up to date during 1-2-1s. Everyone can complete a WAP, you don’t need to have a mental health problem in order to feel the benefits. It just means that you already have practical steps in place to ensure you are supported when you aren’t feeling your best.
- Make use of technology
It’s important to stay connected so use Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Skype or other communication/collaborative working platforms, such as Workplace by Facebook, to connect with colleagues and work together. It’s a good idea to use a range of technologies so you’re not always typing or looking at a screen. Switch things up with a telephone call or video call so you can see someone face to face.
Why not organise an informal virtual lunch together one day? Or even run a fun quiz? It’s important that the team stays connected during this uncertain time.
- Encourage your team to use the support tools available
Whatever wellbeing support your organisation has available, now is a good time to remind your team about it and how to access it. At Mind, we’re offering counselling sessions via skype or phone and we will be trailing the physical activity classes that we offer online. You could also ask your team what tools they might find useful.
We recognise that this is a worrying time for everyone, with lots of uncertainty and potentially difficult choices for both employees and employers. Find more guidance via the Mental Health at Work Coronavirus toolkit, which brings together a selection of helpful online resources to support people at work with their mental health during this period.
This case study is part of CharityComms’ Wellbeing guide for comms professionals.