The working world has now entered a period of uncertainty somewhat unrivalled in the modern environment, Coronavirus (COVID-19) has now spread to many different areas of the world and increasingly governments have started to advise, and in some cases compel staff members to work at home for their company where possible.
This would have been thought highly problematic a few decades ago, however, modern technology and working methods mean many companies are now in a position where they can thankfully operate with most of the workforce in different locations.
There can be some issues regarding the mental wellbeing of your workers, and the extended period of uncertainty could lead to many becoming isolated in their homes. Here we discuss some of the issues your health and safety staff may face if they are forced to work from home, and more importantly how to overcome them.
Managing employee wellbeing if you are having to work from home
- HSE Professionals may become isolated, particularly if they operate independently
A lot of the current sentiment around health and safety, particularly from the outside looking in is that it is an isolating profession. This can be particularly true for junior members of staff who may have to carry out routine site inspections in a workplace foreign to their own. If these workers must work from home, the sudden change in environment could lead to them becoming directionless in their work, and extremely isolated.
To help deal with this, introduce measures to try and discuss with home workers what they are doing and their work schedules for the foreseeable future. This will help them to think through how their time can be spent and give them confidence that what they are doing will help the company out in the long run, increasing their mental wellbeing.
- Junior HSE executive may become uneasy about the lack of direction and supervision
Leading on from the sudden change in work schedule for EHS professionals, those who often have work delegated to them may also lack a sense of direction when working from home. This could make them feel uneasy about their work and anxious about how they may be perceived by others at the company.
Encouraging regular face-to-face video calls can be a great way to check-in with people and help develop some of the human-to-human contact that may be found lacking when employees are working from home.
- Encourage the health and safety team to share ideas via an instant messaging platform
As stated in the world of health and safety many on the job tasks require workers to be out conducting site inspections and attending meetings. The coronavirus outbreak has made this a challenge for many how now find their workload shrunk slightly and their time increase. With the right mindset, this could be a great opportunity for your health and safety department to develop some new ideas for how operations could be improved.
Again, regular video calls and one-on-one catchups can help bring workers out of their shell and challenge ideas current practices both in terms of working from home and in the office. This form of left-field thinking as eluded to in our interview with Clive Woodward can make employees feel valued and help them maintain a positive attitude when working from home.
- Allow workers to be a bit more flexible, especially given the current situation
Many employers are finding it a challenge to manage the current situation around COVID-19 given the potential it has to disrupt families and schedules. If you give your EHS workers flexibility on how they can work and allow them time to assist loved ones, it will help them feel supported and go some way to safeguarding their own mental wellbeing in the workplace.
Make sure you monitor the situation closely to ensure you and your business are up to date
There is a definite theme emerging in the ways to tackle poor mental wellbeing due to homeworking arrangements; human interaction is key. Try and schedule in video-calls with the whole team as a means of keeping everyone connected and happy. Leading on from this, make sure you stay up to date with the latest definitive information on the crisis from the relevant sources to ensure your company is well placed to help your employees and overcome the challenges ahead.