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6 ways to tackle your remote team's mental health challenges

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Can you smell the flowers blooming, the trees turning green? Can you feel the gentle touch of a summery breeze grazing your cheeks from a window draught? See the sun, calling you from the green park just around the corner?

I’m not doing this just to be cruel (though a tiny part of me may be). It is normal to yearn for the outside world in these weird lockdown days. It is understandable to be angry if you’re seeing the beauty of spring pass you by, and to wish you could be there to experience it fully.

If you or your team are struggling with mental health these days, do know that you’re most likely not alone. With most creatives stuck in lockdown, every professional’s mental health is currently at risk, and there is nothing worse for creative juices to be bugged down by stress and burnout.

We are here to help.

Seen that we are in the middle of the Mental Health Awareness Week, we have repurposed intranet provider and employee experience platform Unily's 6 top tips on how to tackle your team’s mental health to present them to you in these trying times. Each point will address one of the most common challenges which have arisen during the pandemic.

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Photo by Linda Evans, No Quick Fix

How to deal with isolation

Use every channel you can to remain connected with your coworkers and team members. A non-healthy workplace can contribute to generate feelings of loneliness in creative professionals, and there’s no way to beat around the bush, it’s not like you’ll be able to resume meetings and office happy hours anytime soon. But you can reimagine team bonding initiatives.

Reimagine team-bonding initiatives

Use digital to envision new ways to keep your team connected and entertained. Implement virtual hugs, long-distance games, or even relaxing debriefing sessions with your coworkers at the end of each day to make sure that human connection isn’t lost. We are creatives – let us create new ways to stay together even while apart.

How to prevent burnout

Remote working means you need to re-arrange your time according to new needs and to adapt to this temporary new reality. In the process, your team risks burning out because of too much stress, pressure or a heavy workload. As an employer, it is your responsibility to ensure and encourage balance in all of your team’s tasks.

Ensure balance and envision new, fun ways to keep your team focused

Encourage your employers to take a step away from their to-do lists from time to time. Suggest them ways to remain focused whilst having fun, such as the Pomodoro technique, or try and study up on what the current gamification methods are to keep your team focused. Allow your team to make occasional breaks and let them invest in relationship building. As long as they get the job done, there is no reason to be pushing them to the limit and way beyond it, especially right now that they may be more vulnerable.

How to tackle the fear of the unknown

Hearing the Doomcast may be discouraging to you and your team alike. Economic uncertainty and rising unemployment are live issues and they’re likely to get worse as we move forward. It is natural for employees to feel concerned about their future and financial stability.

Throw some optimism into the mix

According to Unily, the only way to deal with this is to lead with sensitivity. Try to introduce optimism into the equation with positive people stories and by keeping your team in the loop of what’s happening in your organisation. Keeping in mind the Doomcast mentioned above, people are probably looking for positive stories more than anything right now. Be the light in the darkness and inspire your employees with thoughtful and empathic leadership.

Help your team transition to a new normal

The COVID-19 pandemic has completely reshaped daily routines, changing the ways teams remain connected and spend their free time. This is probably the best time to invest in your internal communications.

Use the available technology to invest in your internal comms

Microsoft Teams, Slack and Facebook Workplace are just some of the options at your disposal to handle your team members in remote, keeping them connected through an intranet with videos, communications and other means to generate engagement in your team. Again, make use of your creativity to envision new ways to keep them active and connected. The technology is there – you just need to find the best ways to use it!

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Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

Keep up the morale

I too miss the West-End musicals. Cinema is off the table, theatres are not going to reopen any time soon and, well, it’s a big no-no for public gatherings, unless you wish to spike the number of infected people in your country. Boredom, boredom, boredom.

Turn the ordinary into the unusual

Fight that boredom by coming up with new exciting things every week, if not every single day. Use hashtags in your internal communications, make challenges, games, make an event out of something completely ordinary just to have some fun. Remember you are part of the picture as well – if you find new ways for your team to remain entertained, you will be the first one to benefit from those initiatives.

Promote a healthy work/life balance

Remember that team member who had just come back from maternity or paternity leave? A lot of your team members will have other needs outside of the workplace, whether it be kids to look after, relatives to care for and other household responsibilities. Try to balance demands to recognise emerging challenges and be empathic towards your employees if they can’t cope the same way you manage to.

Be genuine, empathic, authentic. Be human.

Everyone’s story is different and, if there’s one thing this pandemic has taught us, we are all in this together, and only together will we pull ourselves out of this global chaos. I’ve known creatives who were the most empathic and kind-hearted people in the world – be like them. Offer flexible work options when appropriate. Launch dedicated parents’ social channels to help your team connect with each other.

More than anything, be human, and be yourself. This way, not only will your team members come out stronger of this situation – they will help you become a better leader as well, ready to tackle all of your future challenges together.
 

Credits for the list above go to Unily, an intranet provider and employee experience platform, which shared some of these tips with us this week. Header image: Iris.
 

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