Written by Chris Griffiths with Louise Cunnah
Stress is something that we all experience from time to time – and a small amount can actually be the motivation we need to get those important tasks done.
However, due to the outbreak of COVID-19, it’s safe to assume that, right now, a lot of us will be struggling with higher stress levels than ever before. As well as the constant worry that ourselves and our loved ones may fall ill, many of us have also had to deal with a sudden change of routine, having had to pack up our work desks and swap our usual bustling offices for our homes.
Though it is normal to experience a certain degree of stress in our daily lives, too much can have a detrimental effect on our health and well-being. When stress reaches an unmanageable level it can stop us in our tracks, making it impossible for us to be productive. It can also affect our sleeping patterns and lead to anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions.
With your team now likely to be working from their homes, this presents new challenges for employers who need to support their staff and help them manage their stress levels during this difficult time. It’s therefore vital that communication is maintained – even if we are physically apart.
Here are some simple and effective ways you can ensure just that…
Arrange daily video calls
When you’re used to spending upwards of 35 hours a week with your co-workers and enjoy a good chat with them on your coffee breaks, it can be a struggle to adjust to the lack of physical interaction that working remotely can bring – especially if you live alone. To keep everyone feeling connected and give them an opportunity to vent their concerns, frustrations, and even achievements, replace those watercooler catch-ups with daily team video calls.
These calls are the perfect time to ensure that everyone is on the same page with their tasks and projects, give them a chance to get their questions answered quickly and check that everyone knows what needs to be worked on next. Maintaining regular contact in this way will also help to reinforce that your colleagues are there to support each other. So, don’t make these calls all about work. Ensure that they actually mirror the regular breaks you’d take in the office by giving everyone a chance to forget about their to-do list for a while. Instead, share the great television show you discovered on Netflix and binge-watched in one sitting at the weekend, ask everyone what they got up to last night, or simply check how they’re feeling.
Encourage regular breaks and holidays
With holidays abroad, shopping trips, visits to see friends and family, and many other activities currently off the table, employees may be more reluctant to take annual leave during this time – or even forget about it completely due to the increased time spent at home. Although there are fewer options for how we can spend our free time right now, you should still be encouraging your team to take holidays to allow them to relax and recharge.
One of the biggest causes of stress is overwork, so taking regular breaks is vital for giving us a chance to refresh our brains and remotivate ourselves. Sometimes, stepping back from a tricky task for just 5 minutes and doing something else can be all we need to give us a fresh burst of inspiration – helping us find the solution we were looking for. Although they’re at home, reiterate the importance of your team members taking regular breaks throughout the day, as well as their lunch break. This can be something as simple as making a coffee, sitting in the garden, or even taking a quick walk around the block!
Check-in on your staff
It can be more difficult to spot the telltale signs of stress when we’re not physically seeing our colleagues every day. This is why you should be arranging regular one-to-one catch-ups with individual employees (outside of your daily team calls). This will give you an opportunity to ask them how they’re feeling and determine if there’s anything you can do to provide them with extra support during this time. This means you can help them ease their stress before it reaches an unmanageable level. Employees will also feel like a weight has been lifted as they will have been able to get their worries off their chest, and know that they can come to you when they have any future concerns.
With so much going on in the world right now, it’s normal for people to experience a dip in their concentration and motivation levels. Let your team know that this is okay, and continue to offer as much praise and encouragement as you can to keep them feeling valued. Thanking them for completing an important task quickly or even giving them a shout out in your next team catch-up for a job well-done will make them feel appreciated, reassure them that they’re doing a great job, and boost their motivation to boot!
Right now, managing our stress levels and ensuring our work-life balance is more vital than ever before. Stress affects us all in different ways, so don’t let your employees suffer in silence and ensure you’re doing all you can to support them during this time.
About the author
Chris is the developer of ayoa.com – an intelligent digital workspace which allows teams to manage meetings, build plans, and action tasks – all in one app.
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