Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, companies compelled employees to work from home. While this may sound like heaven, it’s actually a whole new kind of stress.
Home-based employees had the choice to work at home, in co-working spaces, in coffee shops, and basically anywhere before the pandemic struck. With this luxury gone, employees are forced to stay at home and work. This could be stressful because of the number of distractions present at home.
The Stresses of Working from Home
Having all the time to yourself can be a luxury for some households. Let us take for example people who live with their families. They will have to deal with chores, errands, and other familial responsibilities before they can focus on work.
As a result, they have small chunks of time for work that is spread throughout the day instead of working for straight hours. This makes it easy to lose track of where work ends and home life begins. Sometimes, home-based employees can lack structure, leading to procrastination and sleep deprivation.
Social isolation is endemic for home-based employees, too. In an office environment, employees can have the water cooler chatter or bond during break times. They can also support each other for high-priority tasks. These are less likely to happen in work from home setups.
Nonetheless, the replacement for this is the freedom to hangout with friends whenever and wherever, as long as there’s an internet connection. Unfortunately, this is not very plausible because of the social distancing and quarantine protocol brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.
What businesses can do
1. Pay attention to warning signs
Forbes has curated a list of warning signs that signal that employees are “cracking” because of work from home stress. Here are the three telltale signs, according to the article:
- Decreases resilience. Employees are having difficulty dealing with pressure, feedback, and changes. They could have problems with focus, motivation, managing emotions, and connecting with other people.
- More mistakes. Further stress can lead to burnout, causing “sloppy, inaccurate or late work.”
- Negative and emotional tone. Stress can make employees think that they can’t do a certain task or that a project is doomed.
2. Hold online events
Since part of the problem is social isolation and the absence of usual office interactions, holding events online could help. The following are corporate event ideas that the company can bring online:
- Quiz night
- A party (or a regular video call where everyone can talk)
These are all possible via video calls, live, or other apps. This way, the company can bring everyone together while relieving stress and isolation as well as supporting each other amid the pandemic.
3. Highlight employee assistance programs (EAP)
EAPs are programs provided by the company to help employees deal with personal problems such as overall stress, substance abuse, family issues, and other things that may affect their performance at work. These services include counseling, legal assistance, and healthcare advice. Because EAPs tend to be stigmatized, the pandemic can be the best time to normalize its presence by encouraging employees to take these programs.
When employees are doing well with mental health, their productivity and quality of work improve. Therefore, investing in their well-being during work from home in this COVID-19 pandemic is beneficial for the company.