How many times has this been said or shouted over the last few weeks from working parents? A lot of times we would imagine. It’s tough, really tough to get into the groove of working from home. To find a way of establishing a routine for everyone in the household.

Admittedly, the first week probably felt either a little exciting to have the flexibility to work from home, or a total nightmare for single parents or parent workers with a large family.

There is now an estimated 10 million people working from home and 7.2 million of those are working parents and the increase in ‘role conflict’ can play a significant driver of workplace stress for many.

The stresses of working from home and for those on furlough leave can include:

  • Depression and anxiety
  • Musculoskeletal strain
  • Sedentary working
  • Poor diet
  • Poor sleep
  • Increased alcohol intake
  • Financial worries
  • Feelings of isolation

As the weeks progress and draw out before us, what do you do as leaders and managers? How can you help people who are working from home, have been furloughed or in isolation/shielding. These are still workers on your payroll, and there is still a legal obligation for duty of care under the Health & Safety At Work Act 1974, but how can you stay connected?

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate!

We can’t stress this enough and how you connect and engage with your people will be key to supporting them to work from home. We don’t expect leaders and managers to turn into professional counsellors, but having an understanding of individuals circumstances is important to the way in which you respond, and therefore has a positive effect in reducing workplace stress in this most challenging of times.

  • Be clear on what your priorities are and the policies and processes you are using and initiating, such as working from home policy, sickness absence policy, flexible working policy etc.
  • Have regular updates, be it via email or face-to-face on zoom.
  • Encourage 2-way dialogue, social connection and peer support.
  • Seek feedback on what people are doing each day or week and what you’re doing to.
  • Set clear boundaries for the working day and what the working patterns will be.
  • Agree what systems and platforms are to be used.
  • Remind people it’s ok to take regular breaks if they are working from the kitchen table or sitting on the floor, to decrease musculoskeletal strain.
  • Consider or ask what will cause people to struggle and agree together what solutions can be adopted to manage this.
  • Forward daily messages of support and encouragement from the exec team.
  • For people who are seriously struggling, signpost them to professional experts such as your Occupational Health Adviser, or Well-being Programme.
  • If you know people in your team have a special skill or knowledge, encourage them to organise a zoom event. So if a team member is a good baker, organise the team to get ingredients beforehand and have a Friday afternoon cake baking tutorial – something the household can enjoy together with their remote colleagues. Perhaps someone is a quiz master outside of work and a quiz can be organised one evening.

Communication is being tested now more than ever and in ways that have never been tested before. See this as an opportunity to learn more about your workers, after all, you’re in their living rooms and kitchens now!

Give us a call on 07931 308913 or email louiseloon@hrforyou.org.uk if you want any further advice, or just a chat about what you can do.

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