Our COVID-19 Webinar Series
Previous webinar Q&A
Question 1: It’s been intense over the last couple of weeks with COVID-19, and people are adjusting to the different ways of working. Are there any particular things that we should be looking to remind people to be doing in general?
We should try to remember that for many this is not a normal working environment, so adjustments may need to be made to how we are working.
We have heard many creative ideas from employers across workplaces where they are looking to keep people in touch with each other and the business, including virtual breakfast clubs, pub quizzes, and staff lunches. Opportunities like this can be coordinated by a working group, and communicated across the business or team to allow people to engage. Think about who’s joining, and also who’s not, and perhaps find another way to check in with them.
It’s important to check in with your team regularly, both in team meetings as well as one-to-ones, and find out how the change is affecting them. And the situation is changing, so it's worth reviewing how they are adjusting regularly.
Question 2: What should businesses be looking to put in place for those that haven’t worked remotely before?
It’s always a good idea for employers to check-in with employees to ensure their employees have a decent structure to their day and the correct amount of work. Additionally, you can remind employees to ensure they are working in a safe work environment and to regularly take breaks from your desk to stretch and move.
For some simple steps take a look at our checklist about how best to support remote workers. We also have some simple tips around homeworking and your mental health.
Question 3: We’re worried about ‘presenteeism’ – people want to show up for work, everyone’s feeling the pressure at the moment – what should we be doing to help manage this at this time?
Knowing how to look out for people at the moment is key! And it’s a challenge for managers.
Having regular one-to-ones with your team is vital. Managers should encourage and facilitate open and honest discussions with their workforce. This should allow their workforce to feel more comfortable disclosing any (physical/mental) ill-health which may prevent them from doing their work at full capacity.
With people working from home, many are keen to ensure their peers/ management don’t think they’re ‘skiving’ off – so presenteeism is a real issue in managing a remote workforce.
Now, more than ever, there is a perception held that people have to be in front of their screens for a solid eight hours a day, so it’s important to remember and remind workers that you do need regular breaks and time away from their computers.
Question 4: How can you encourage managers to remain conscious of the pressure and anxiety at the moment?
It’s important that managers and leadership practise extra diligence around the potential issue of ‘presenteeism’, as considering the current circumstances people will have heightened anxiety and uncertainty.
It’s important that leadership communicate on a human level and know that their primary function is one of support.
We have a short read including some tips in our ‘Making Workforce Mental Health Work’ briefing.
Also stay up to date on additional Coronavirus advice for employers and employees published on Acas: https://www.acas.org.uk/coronavirus
Question 5: Everyone’s aware that I’ve been trained to be our Mental Health Champion in the business, so all the guys are talking to me. But what else should I be doing?
Fundamentally the most important thing we can do when we start a conversation is to ask our colleagues and employees the question ‘Are you okay?’. It is worth remembering you can ask that question in many ways, and in the current times, it may be easier to get a response if you ask ‘How’s it going?’ instead.
There are many situations where contractors/staff are being furloughed, or all of the work is stopping because of clients listening to government advice and pushing back. Given these varied situations for employees, we need to ensure we are making contact regularly.
If you don’t have tools such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams or Skype, then pick up the phone and call, and make time to have a one-to-one catch up. Even if someone in your team has been furloughed, you must keep in contact with them, to see how they are doing.
If someone is struggling you can then signpost them to relevant services (both internal and external support). You can find free resources on this via our website: https://www.matesinmind.org/need-help.html