Whilst lone working is nothing new, particularly in the health and safety field, it has become more of a norm since the world got hit by COVID-19. Businesses have had to adjust, and so have employees who are now finding themselves in a rather different working environment.
Systems have been in place for years for lone workers such as delivery drivers, security guards, and cleaners but most home workers are lone workers too. Now, more than ever it has become important to consider how you support lone workers within your business.
Supporting your lone workers throughout COVID-19
1. Schedule regular video meetings
Remote workers lack human interaction, and now the option to see people has been limited further, the feeling of loneliness and isolation will only get more severe. It’s key that managers and co-workers alike schedule regular meetings and random team group chats so that people can get together and have conversations in a more face-to-face setting.
These meetings don’t have to be formal and they don’t have to be long, and even a “hey, I’m making a cuppa, would anyone like to join?” would give people 5 minutes just to have a quick catch up or a laugh.
More formal meetings are a good way to keep communication flowing though, and shouldn’t be avoided entirely. By maintaining frequent contact between teams, there is going to be a larger sense of support across the business.
2. Consider training and development opportunities
By offering more opportunities for development to your staff, lone workers or not, they are more likely to feel valued and will feel that they are being supported and invested in.
There are numerous online platforms for training and development. These don’t just have to be health and safety focused, they can be on topics such as managing a team, enhanced computer skills or ideas for group team training.
If your company actually offers its own training courses, then make sure your lone and remote workers know about them and have access to them. It is worth creating a plan for employees on how they can grow and develop which can be monitored.
3. Support their mental health and wellbeing
Mental health is just as important as physical health, and lone workers can often feel the strain on their mental health and wellbeing if they feel lonely or unsupported. It’s easier so suffer in silence when working remotely and away from others, so it’s key for employers to support mental health.
Planning in regular team functions, even remotely, can help lone workers feel more connected to their colleagues in a less formal setting. In a lockdown-free world, try to encourage lone workers to come to the office or to join the team for lunch or a night out.
But first, you should always ensure you have a policy for lone workers as well as those that work in your offices or onsite. There should be certain measures and responsibilities set out so that managers and HR teams have procedures to follow. It will also help employees to know who they can seek help from.
Many companies have policies and procedures for physical accidents, but mental health and wellbeing should not be ignored. Supporting mental health should be at the front of all employers minds.