Digital experts are urging employers to be mindful of employees’ mental health during second lockdown.
They went on to outline how important accessibility to a working from home pattern is to so many people.
Hilary Stephenson, managing director at UX design agency Sigma, says organisations should focus on supporting staff’s mental wellbeing during a time of changing work patterns.
She explained: “The rapid switch to, and uptake of, digital tools and platforms, to meet, work and talk has made it increasingly difficult to switch off, and given us all a growing sense of connectedness. Research by Microsoft into its own digital transformation team revealed that the working day became longer as work was stretched out over a longer period of time.
“The speed in which the digital tools and platforms were applied and rolled out throughout many businesses, without thorough research, has resulted in considerations around accessibility, the need for flexibility, and even providing the appropriate training being overlooked. This, combined with the sense of social isolation, longer work hours and concerns over job stability, has led to a downturn in mental wellbeing for many employees.”
Adding: “As we enter the second lockdown, it is important for employers to be mindful of their workers’ mental health and consider the effects of remote working and digital tools. With the feeling of pandemic fatigue, workers will inevitably struggle to juggle their work life with other responsibilities.
“However, employers can improve the impact that prolonged home working has on the physical and mental health of employees through user research, and analysing usage data, as well as discussing business outcomes and employee ideas more openly.
“Organisations have the opportunity to design work around their needs rather than focus solely on technology, and adopt the easiest or cheapest platform available to them. It is vital that businesses are much more inclusive and empathetic to remote working as we face many more months of changing restrictions.”
She concluded: “While some may attribute digital platforms as a cause for a decline in mental health, there is also potential for organisations to use digital tools in a way which addresses the crisis. Microsoft Teams is rolling out an update with a series of wellness tools with the aim of increasing productivity. The tools include emotional check-ins, a virtual commute intended to give people time to reflect on their day, and guided meditation sessions through a partnership with Headspace.”