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Why it’s important to prioritize mental health during remote work (Includes interview)

These special pressure bring with them, for some individuals, the risk of developing mental health issues beyond the expected levels of stress and strain. Consideration of mental health issues therefore becomes an important topic for companies to consider.

New normal

With Facebook, Uber, and Google extending remote work for at least another year and companies like Zillow and Twitter favoring indefinite work from home, it’s clear that remote is here to stay – meaning that longer working hours won’t be a novel trend, but the new norm.

Best practices

According to Peter Jackson, CEO of virtual collaboration software company, Bluescape, who believes that leaders must make employees’ mental health their first priority – and that includes mandating time off.

According to Jackson: “The COVID-19 pandemic, a recession, and social unrest have already added an extra weight. Now, with the need for extended childcare from virtual schooling this fall and a stressful, polarizing election just months away, things aren’t going to get any easier – and the solution isn’t working more hours.”

Jackson notes that as: “workers feel the pressure that comes from an always-on, remote work mentality .”

In terms of best practices, Jackson outlines three steps that companies must take into account.

Mandated Time Off

According to Jackson: “Vacation requests have dropped by almost half, compared to this time last year. If your employees won’t voluntarily take time off, do them a favor and make them take a break. Scheduling a company-wide day (or even a week off) is an easy way to help employees recuperate without feeling guilty – which will, in turn, result in enhanced employee productivity and motivation down the line.”

Mental Health Metrics

Jackson notes: “Software to monitor employee activity at home has taken off during the pandemic. But instead of spying on our teams, we should be tracking what really matters, like mental health. Surveying your team to gauge their emotional/mental state will help to balance their workloads and create a greater sense of connection. Further, tracking time off will help make sure that everyone is getting the rest they deserve.”

Remote Work Perks

Jackson assesses: “Companies with sought after perks like free food and drinks, common spaces, and games are out of the question for remote workers. But, just because employees are now working from home doesn’t mean that these perks have to end; they just need to change. Flexibility can become the best remote work perk. Think meeting-free work hours, weekly exercise/wellness classes, and the option to choose where you work and when you work. The result: healthy, happier employees across all levels and departments.”

Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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