Mental health & remote work: Balance it right!

When the pandemic-induced lockdowns were put in place, most of us thought of it as a temporary measure and expected things to return to ‘normal’ in a few days. But it has now been over a year, and the relentless waves of the COVID-19 show no signs of abating anytime soon. As a result, most professionals are now working from home, essentially turning their homes into their offices. While work from home (WFH) has offered several benefits to the employees and the employers, its dark side has now also started to manifest itself in the form of various mental health issues.

Remote working is awesome, but it isn’t exactly easy...

So what could go wrong?

– The feeling of isolation and loneliness has started to have a negative impact on the mental health of almost 27% of remote workers. People are missing their co-workers, their watercooler moments, and their team celebrations. But this extended run of remote working has proven that burnout is a real condition, and it does not affect office goers only.


Use HuddleUp Slack app to create virtual watercooler moments directly on Slack. Now, unplug yourself from work by creating non-work funny ice-breakers on your team slack channels

watercooler on Slack_HuddleUp

– As per a study, more than 80% of remotely working professionals have admitted to suffering from burnout during WFH. In the same study, almost 50% of remote workers reported working longer hours and being under pressure to perform better. Then there is the added strain of home-schooling kids, taking care of elder parents, and contributing to household chores. All these issues can manifest in the form of stress, anxiety, depression, loneliness, or various other mental health issues.

This extraordinary pressure situation created by remote working has forced professionals into an unhealthy lifestyle and limited the potential of young workers who had just joined the industry. When your team members or subordinates are susceptible to such pressures and ensuing stress, it is extremely important on your part to take the necessary steps to help them mitigate the toll on their mental health.

To help your remote team manage their stress levels efficiently and enjoy sound mental health, you should take some affirmative steps. While it can be difficult to plan a comprehensive approach towards tackling the mental health issues of a diverse workforce, there are some broad steps that you can initiate to yield the desired results. 

Mental health with remote work: Getting it right

Here are some easy-to-follow practical steps to help you strike the right balance between the benefits of remote working and the consequent mental health issues.

Creating a schedule

The excellent flexibility offered while working remotely tends to make the routine go haywire for young professionals. But in the long run, this flexibility can have considerable negative outcomes. Hence, as an experienced senior, you ought to take the responsibility as a mentor and guide your team members with planning their daily schedule. This will help them draw a clearly defined line between work and home and increase their productivity manifolds. If you followed a 5-day week schedule in the office, then replicate the same for remote work as well. These small tweaks will help considerably reduce the mental stress of your team members in the long run.

Say No when you can’t take up more

The need to be proactive, everybody’s ‘go-to person’, and to be called ‘a teamplayer’ is real. It is more so with the remote work setup, amidst the threat of bad reviews and low appraisals. While it is not easy to say no to more work and job responsibilities, you can still try and make the conversation go as well as possible. 

– Be candid and honest about the reason for saying no. Any lightweight reasons may come across as ingenuine. 

– Be empathetic and understanding so that your ‘no’ doesn’t sting as much.

– Be kind, but firm. Your body language plays an important role in managing a situation. 

Get the right equipment

You can not expect your team members to deliver their best results without proper equipment. A wide desk, comfortable chair, adequate lighting, fast laptop, power back-up, audio-video equipment, and essential stationery are some of the must haves during WFH. Many companies have provided their employees with all these essential resources and are reaping the benefits of increased productivity and reduced mental stress. So, why should you be deprived of these benefits?

Conduct outdoor sessions

If your team members do not move out of their house, you must make them do so. Once every fortnight, you can conduct an outdoor work session and bring your team closer to nature. How? Simply ask them to pack their laptops in a bag and travel to the nearby beach, garden, or scenic spot. There is no need to engage in intense, heated debates during these sessions, rather engage in friendly banter or productive discussions about improving productivity during the workweek.

A mandatory session with an expert

The only thing that makes mental health issues worse is the reluctance to openly admit suffering from one. Therefore, you need to take the initiative and make it compulsory for your team members to attend mandatory sessions with a mental health counselor, motivational speaker or any other expert as you may deem fit. This will help you identify the symptoms of a serious mental health issue affecting any of your team members and take the corrective steps immediately.

Conduct team-building activities

This may sound too cliché to you, but team-building activities are the ‘thing’. They allow your team members to form a stronger bond and offer them much needed mental relaxation. There are many virtual team-building activities that you can conduct as per the preferences of your team members. Even a 15 min session every day can deliver wonderful results.

For team-building ideas, read our blog here

Encourage physical fitness

Don’t you remember that famous saying, “Healthy minds live in healthy bodies.” Your physical health is directly connected to your mental health, and the same holds for your team members. You must encourage them to engage in a regular physical exercise routine. This could include walking, jogging, cardio, weight training, yoga or meditation, as per their convenience and comfort. You can ask them to wear a fitness tracker and upload the data daily as part of a virtual competition or upload their workout video to motivate others. There are only positives associated with this activity.

The massive impact of remote working on mental health should not be overlooked. As a team leader, it is your responsibility to ensure your team members’ overall physical and mental well-being. With the tips mentioned above, you can create an efficient mental health plan for your team and turn WFH into an even more enjoyable experience. 

In a nutshell...

The massive impact of remote working on mental health should not be overlooked. As a team leader, it is your responsibility to ensure your team members’ overall physical and mental well-being. With the tips mentioned above, you can create an efficient mental health plan for your team and turn WFH into an even more enjoyable experience.