To reduce the risk of spreading covid-19, the government has stated that people must stay at home where possible. This means many of us are now working from home every day and supporting our staff and teams remotely.
This will inevitably have an impact on our team's health and wellbeing, they may feel bored, frustrated or lonely. They may also be low, worried or anxious, it is therefore important that our teams are supported through this.
Helping Your Team’s Mental Health
As well as people in your team feeling low or anxious, they may be concerned about their health or that of those close to them. Everyone reacts differently to events and changes in the way that they think, feel and behave. This can vary between different people and over time. It’s important that everyone takes care of their mind as well as their body and that they can get further support if they need it.
This can be achieved through things like:
Support: Working remotely will bring challenges and cause disruptions to the daily working routine. It’s important that your staff and teams feel supported. Be flexible.
Self-care: When working from home it is good to create a space between work and personal time, where possible. This could mean suggesting that your staff and volunteers keep set working hours, work in a different room to where they relax and put their laptops away at the end of the working day.
Checking in regularly: Working from home can be isolating; ensure you and your team have regular check-ins virtually. Find an online tool that works for your team, such as: Microsoft teams, Zoom, Skype, or by phone. Make sure these regular check-ins are scheduled in advance with your team members: have some daily scheduled chat time with each of them and regular time in the diary as a team.
Establish new ways of working: Working remotely will require consideration as to how you will deliver work as a team - what collaborative working platforms will be used, how you will communicate and how you support each other through challenges. Some of it might be trial and error so it is also important to think about how you will reflect on what’s working and what isn’t.
Wellness Action Plans: You could encourage your team to complete a Welllness Action Plan (WAP) and encourage them to share this with you. If they already have one, then it would be helpful to review in light of recent developments and changes. This can be looked at and kept up to date during 1-2-1s.
Stay well on a personal level
In order to help others, your staff and volunteers, you need to keep yourself well:
- Consider how to connect with others: Maintaining relationships with people you trust is important for your mental wellbeing. Think about how you can stay in touch with friends and family via telephone, video calls or social media.
- Help and support others: Think about how you could help those around you – it could make a big difference to them and can make you feel better too. Are there community groups that you could join to support others locally?
- Keep busy: South London Cares are publishing these monthly activity packs, they include a fun activity to do every day
Here's a video to share from MFHA England:
Staying Active links to share
It’s important that your team stays active even though they are stuck at home, this helps the mind to stay strong as well as the body. People are allowed a daily run or walk outside, (if they respect social distancing by keeping two metres apart). Some people may not fancy going outside but there are alternative ways to stay active, there are lots of online workouts they can try instead. Here's some options:
- The Body Coach makes lots of HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) workout videos
- Yoga can help to improve flexibility and strength. It also helps people to feel calmer and more relaxed. Yoga With Adriene has a wide range of full-length, free yoga routines.
- The Healthwatch Southwark team have put a great list of workout options on their website here.
Share online mental health tools
If any of your team are struggling with their mental health, there are lots of support tools available. (There are also various accredited counsellors now offering online sessions via skype or phone, rather than face-to-face, and so it is worth them getting in touch and asking).
Here's some online tool options:
- NHS Southwark CCG's Big White Wall is free and available to residents aged 16+. It provides 24/7 peer and professional support (with trained counsellors online at all times), plus a range of wellbeing tools to help people self-manage
- There are also online self-help courses, such as this Mind one: Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
- The NHS have some online tools for support with mental health here
- You can find books for common mental health problems like anxiety and depression on the Reading Well website
GP/ Mental Health telephone support
If any of your staff find themselves trying to cope with extended periods of anxiety or stress, then they should be advised to speak to their doctor. Many GPs are now offering telephone consultations – they should check with their GP surgery to see if this is available.
Mental Health Crisis Support
If you are worried about someone in your team and they are not in contact with mental health services, then they can call the South London & Maudsley (SLaM) crisis line: 0800 731 2864.
If they just need to speak to someone or are feeling suicidal they can call the Samaritans. They're always open and are there to listen: 116 123.
Helpful guidance docs to share
Lots of useful guidance documents have been produced which you can share with your staff:
- Mind has released guidance on covid-19 and caring for your mental health during self-isolation
- Mental Health First Aid have produced a toolkit on how to suport your mental health while working from home
- GMCA have produced some practical tips for looking after your posture
- NHS England have this guidance on working from home.
Stresses about finances
If any of your team are feeling stressed about their finances, they can:
- get help and advice from Southwark Council on problems paying rent and help with household bills
- get help and advice from the Citizen's Advice Service about work and benefits and getting sick pay
Employees who are recommended to self-isolate are entitled to sick leave but not necessarily sick pay, though you may well want to provide this anyway as a matter of being a good employer.
As part of your business continuity plans you should also consider how to support your staff to remote work in practical ways, this can also help people feel less anxious and stressed.
With areas such as:
- Hardware: Staff will need access to computers and a good internet connection. Are you able to provide them with laptops? Where possible avoid having staff use personal devices, as this can cause issues in relation to cyber security and data protection.
- Software: Do you have the right software for your team, do you need to consider tools to enable you to access your files such as Sharepoint Online. Do you need to consider video conferencing or a messaging tool? Always consider what is the right tool for your team and your work. Charity Digital have a range of software available at a discount for charities.
- Processes: Consider your team’s day-to-day processes and what’s essential to continue. What are the normal ways you share information, tasks and feedback? Can these be done when working remotely? Allow for trial-and-error. These processes can change and develop to best suit your team’s needs. When considering virtual meetings here's a guide to using Zoom