Maintaining positive communication and mental health during quarantine is harder than ever considering COVID-19 has scattered the workforce from their usual congregation points. Now more than ever, managers have to pay attention to employee wellness and productivity — and technology plays a huge role in those areas.
Mental health in quarantine
“Social distancing” is a misnomer: what most experts advise is physical distancing while maintaining social closeness.
Since so many are forced to work out of their homes right now, they might miss some of the structure that helped keep them focused or improve their mood in the office — whether they realize that or not.
Many take the office’s air quality, ergonomic positioning, sociability, and other working conditions for granted.
Newly-remote workers may be waking up, taking breaks, and eating food at different times than they were before. People now dictate how their work environments change.
So how do we adjust? Senior VP at International WELL Building Institute Whitney Gray says it’s all about “controllability.”
“If you feel you can control any part of your day, it deeply affects your stress response. You are less likely to stress the more control you have,” she says.
Controlling your time and space while working from home:
- Not only should you dress in semi-normal work clothes, but Gray says employees should try to walk around in them — outside if possible. “By going outside for a quick walk, you’re controlling a pattern and a time element.”
- If you can take a conference while walking or pacing, it can be better for your body.
- If you’re not the only person in your household, try to set up your home office with distance from others. Don’t mentally distance yourself from family, but try to view your work time as you would have in the office: you wouldn’t spend all day chatting with your family at the office, so why do it while working from home?
- It’s important to ‘turn off’ after workday, but having the above environmental and habitual cues will help you take a meaningful break from work.
Tools for working remotely
It’s hard to believe, but there are still some businesses and organizations that do not have a standardized approach to employee communications. It’s those orgs which stand to suffer the most inefficiencies and frustrations if they don’t rectify that ASAP.
Here are the most common enterprise collaboration tools:
Quick tips for video calls on any of the above collaboration apps:
- “It’s awesome to be ‘Princess Leia’ if you’re doing video,” says Phil Edholm, President, PKE Consulting. What he means is that you really should wear headphones, since they eliminate feedback and increase overall sound quality for the wearer
- Think about the camera: move your video camera or laptop’s camera so that it is 24 inches away
- Steer clear of pure white and black clothing – as well as clothes with busy patterns – to avoid strange optical effects on camera
- Dress as you normally would for the office (ok, maybe the loafers and fancy flats don’t have to make the cut, but from the waist up, at least)
- Don’t ignore your hair — again, treat it as you normally would for office days
- Try to sit at an actual desk near natural light, but also avoid glare if possible by angling your computer or using sheer blinds on windows