A toll on our Mental Health

The future of work depends on managers having the capacity to effectively and, empathetically deal with the human connection.

The emergence of Covid-19 has to date created a global health crisis that prompted governments to execute extraordinary social distancing measures and restrictions to curtail the number of deaths caused by the virus. Throughout Ireland and across the globe, these restrictions have had wide-ranging impacts, from limiting time outside of the home and the ability to work, to prompting the closing of schools and childcare, impacting how and where education is delivered.

Quality of life has taken a missile hit. An outcome of these restrictions has been a severe economic downturn, causing job insecurity and unemployment. As the global pandemic progresses, it’s putting strain on both our healthcare and economic systems in ways that are significant and obvious. Looking past these domains, Covid-19 still poses a profound threat to our overall wellbeing and mental health. There is no health without mental health. This pandemic poses a threat to our most basic human motivations, especially human connection. Regarding adult mental health and the workplace setting throughout Covid-19, a remote working survey from NUIG looked at one of the most significant public health measures introduced as part of the Covid-19 response – the government direction to work from home where possible.

This report examines the period from March 2020 to late August 2020, in the context of working from home. It highlighted not only were people asked to work from home where at all possible, but school and childcare facilities were closed and many were juggling both working from home and home-schooling. Loneliness and isolation, staying motivated and difficulties with the physical workspace were identified as main challenges to working remotely. These challenges had a huge impact on workers’ mental health and overall wellbeing.

 

A summary of this report looked at data that was collected from employees across a wide range of industries and sectors over a one-week period from April 27th to May 5th 2020.

A total of 7,241 responses were received.

The key findings of this report were that over half of respondents (51%) never worked remotely before the Covid-19 crisis.

Of these workers, more than three-quarters (78%) would like to continue to work remotely after the crisis is over.

Nearly half of respondents (48%) report that it is easy or somewhat easy to effectively work these days.

37% indicated that it is somewhat difficult or difficult to effectively work these days.

There were three top challenges of working remotely that included not being able to switch off from work.

The issues of collaboration and communication with colleagues and co-workers were harder and poor physical workspace was a problem. One of the main spotlights this report examined was the need for employers and managers to acknowledge, through their actions, the toll the crisis can have on employees’ mental health. Many workplaces need to ask the question – do we need to upskill managers in dealing with the human connection and whole person for the future of work?

The relationship of work and mental health has been illuminated throughout the pandemic and it also highlights the workplace setting as a key determinant to mental health and overall wellbeing. With Covid-19, the water has been cleared, we’ve made it to the life raft. Dry land has approached but the question we need to ask ourselves is this – what learnings and measures are being put in place for the next storm?

 

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