At the height of the pandemic, it was estimated that 44% of people were working from home, compared to 12% at the same time the year prior. This has led many professionals to feel that they're facing a 'professional confidence crisis'; 54% of men and 63% of women under the age of 35 say that they fear failure at work and feel too isolated to speak out to colleagues. Stress has also come from the pandemic itself, staff cuts and pay reductions.
Remote staff are now faced with working from home to continue throughout winter - working in colder and greyer weather conditions, with the days getting darker sooner as the clocks go back.
Karen Dykes, recruitment partner at Anne Corder Recruitment, said: "We cannot escape the fact that these continuing uncertain times are putting pressure on the wellbeing and mental health of many employees – some who perhaps have been working from home and/ or in isolation for over six months.
"However, there are steps employers and individuals can take to keep their mind in the best possible shape."
The advice from Anne Corder Recruitment includes:
- Employers should check in regularly with their team, through video conferencing if possible. Being able to see someone face-to-face is much better than talking over the phone.
- Staff should be encouraged to talk to each other too - some virtual team downtime could be motivating. A lunchtime quiz, a Zoom Friday after work drink, or maybe even a fun team challenge. Long distance office Bake Off, anyone?
- Individuals should establish a routine, especially when it comes to taking lunch and drinking water. Being at home instead of in an office can impact appetite.
- Keep moving - not just for posture, but to boost mood. Take a break and put on some music, or if it isn't raining take a short walk in the middle of the day. Getting moving can help when feeling low or anxious.
- Recognise when breaks are needed and be kind. Send a colleague a care package. Employers should remember to give their thanks to their employees. And individuals should be kind to themselves, too. Have some downtime and don't stress over what you cannot do - look at what you can and have achieved!
- Remember - professional help is out there for people who feel they may need it. Many charities and organisations are continuing to work hard during lockdown to support those who need help.
Karen added: "Despite the challenging times, some businesses are using this period to take stock and think about ways in which they can regrow and rebalance the business when the time is right. Turning a negative into a positive can help refocus the mind; looking at personal development during what may be a relatively quieter time for the business."