Are you missing your team? If so, you’re not alone. In the UK, new research shows just how much people value time spent with their colleagues, with over 40% of workers claiming they miss their co-workers their most, and 41% saying that they miss office jokes and light-hearted chit chat.
It raises an important point – work isn’t always just about work. Social interactions are also crucially important. In its 2019 State of Remote Work survey, social media management company Buffer explored the cons of remote working under normal circumstances, finding the answers included the inability to unplug, loneliness, and difficulty collaborating.
With remote working thrust upon many of us, we need to take steps to reduce the risks to our mental health. That’s what we’ve asked some experts to share their tips for making the best of the situation.
Foster a sense of team spirit
“Book in daily team calls which mimic the well-known ‘stand up’ style meetings where everyone says what they have on for the day and voices any concerns,” says Chris Griffiths, a remote working expert and the developer of ayoa.com. “Doing this maintains a sense of team spirit and provides the perfect space for employees to talk about their thoughts and feelings for improved wellbeing.”
Make time for breaks
“Make sure you have social chats with colleagues if you can,” says Anna Whitehouse, co-author of ‘Where’s My Happy Ending?’. “According to Durham University research, isolation is not good for the working mind; we still need water cooler chats otherwise communication breaks down on bigger projects.”
“If you’re a team leader, you can mitigate your employees feeling lonely and isolated by having more regular one-to-one meetings,” says Kevin Green, former CEO of the Recruitment & Employment Confederation and HR Director of Royal Mail and author of Competitive People Strategy. “Your team doesn’t know how busy you are, so an ignored email can be viewed as no one listening or lead to them feeling undervalued and unimportant. Ask your team to ‘check in’ each day with a score from one to five – with one representing: ‘I’m not feeling great’ to five meaning ‘this is a great day’. Quickly follow up with anyone who scored themselves one or two to find out how you can help. You may be able to seek additional support for them if they are struggling. Even if you can’t help solving their problem, you can still listen and be empathetic.”
Have a digital post-work drink
“Simply try to interact as close to usual as best you can,” says Andy Salkeld, author of Life is a Four-Letter Word: A Mental Health Survival Guide for Professionals. “Video calls don’t have to just be for work! They can be for having a 15-minute coffee, sharing lunch, dinner or even an after-work drink. You can keep all your social interactions going, they just look slightly different now.”
Looking for more tips on making the most of working from home? Or just looking for some light reading? Find more in Spaces magazine.