Most offices in the UK have rightfully made the decision to either close their offices or encourage staff to work from home where possible. These decisions were taken to protect the health of their staff and their families, however what about their mental health? This is a big change for a lot of people who need the routine and social aspects work brings.
One employer that is distinguished in business as one that has always put the mental health of its employees first, is VerriBerri Marketing. The company has been known to encourage staff to have open conversations about mental health and to support them in the workplace as much as possible.
Its MD, Sarah Kauter, spoke to us about how to take care of each other during isolation and the threat of imminent lockdown.
How will the threat of lockdown be making the public feel at the moment?
I think, generally speaking, that the public will be nervous. These are unprecedented times and we haven't lived through anything like this since WWII. However, sticking together and staying positive is going to get us through.
What impact could isolation have on an employee’s mental wellbeing? Work is a way of social interaction for many people. It is where they interact with colleagues and enjoy being around people in the hustle and bustle of the office every day. Isolation removes this. In fact, working from home can be trying at the best of times even without the added pressure we are currently facing. The anxiety that everyone feels will certainly add another level of concern onto the average person. It's important that people talk. By voicing your concerns with others, people will realise that they are far from alone.
What effect does this have on a company?
I speak to a lot of other business owners. I don't know even one that hasn't suffered. SMEs are finding things tough so we have to find ways to help each other. For example, I have set up a Coronavirus Business Support Facebook group for businesses to talk and offer advice, which gained 400 individuals within the first 24 hours! Come along and say hi. We have a huge picture of businesses, from one man bands to legal firms. No question is too small, it's quickly becoming a community.
How can colleagues and employers support each other during this time?
Talk, talk, talk. Ask how each other are. Pick up the phone and check-in. We are in an isolating time and it's normal to feel drained. Just don't feel alone because you aren't.
What are your top tips for taking care of your own mental health whilst working from home?
Rely on your team. Tell them if you are worried, ask for advice. Make sure you take a break. It is all too easy to keep working when the PC is right there. Schedule breaks and if you aren't self-isolating. Go for a walk.
Do you have any other advice for employers on taking care of their staff?
I have realised more now than ever that your team are everything. Look after them and put them first. Offer them an ear and praise them when they do well. Set up a daily FaceTime or Zoom so you can see each other too. There's no replacement for human contact but it's the next best thing (after pets).
Visit VerriBerri's Facebook group for support and advice on COVI-19 and mental wellbeing while working from home.