Workers battling feelings of loneliness and isolation affects 30.9 percent of remote workers in the UK.
Issues surrounding loneliness have been driven up because of the pandemic, says the Mental Health Foundation.
Additional to loneliness, 71 percent of hybrid of remote working Brits are struggling with work-life balance, according to a recent report by Dynata.
Highlighting the importance of addressing this issue, Director of the American Psychiatric Association Foundation’s Centre for Workplace Mental Health, Darcy Gruttadaro, urgers employers to “recognize the importance of addressing these [issues] as potential business costs and recognize that when people are lonely and isolated, they are not performing at their peak.”
With Mental Health Awareness Week nearing, there is a great opportunity for employers to address the ongoing issues surrounding working from home.
Loneliness and isolation: remote working means different challenges
“Discussions around mental health and wellbeing are more relevant than ever. We know that the working landscape has changed permanently for many people over the past two years – and for a large number of people, that has meant a continuation of remote working where they may feel lonely,” says Managing Director at Anne Corder Recruitment, Nel Woolcott.
“The working from home model itself has also changed, from those early and somewhat exciting days of adjusting to a new work/life balance to something that is now a daily routine.”
“For some workers, they may spend day after day not speaking to or seeing anyone, they feel abandoned and left to get on with things while feeling unsupported and/or isolated.”
“There is a big onus on employers of remote staff in particular to ensure that they are meeting their duty of care.”
What can HR departments do?
According to the foundation, there are specific actions employers can take to successfully address the feelings of loneliness and isolation their staff may be experiencing:
- Create a guilt-free culture when it comes to flexible working – promote lunch breaks, walks in the sunshine, going to the gym, attending their child’s school event, taking the dog for a walk.
- Actively promote an open culture where employees feel they can talk about their mental health. Go one step further and develop awareness of mental health among employees – identify what it is, what mental ill-health means and what support/assistance is available.
- Encourage staff to maintain a routine – planning their time and taking their holidays.
- Ensure employees are not working excessive hours and have a healthy work-life balance. Unless an emergency, try not to call them outside of working hours.
- Provide training covering topics such as managing stress, mindfulness, and personal resilience, as well as training for managers and senior staff on supporting employees.
- Encourage staff to maintain informal discussions with colleagues and clients while working remotely.
- Being an approachable and sympathetic manager and supervisor is particularly important for junior members of staff and make the time to have regular catch ups.
- Recognise and reward individual and team achievements – a much-deserved pat on the back will go a long way.
Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at the University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.