Half of All SME Workers Say Working From Home has Negatively Affected Their Mental Health

Findings from a recent study suggest employers aren’t doing enough to support the mental health and wellbeing of employees working from home. The “Working From Home” study by Wildgoose surveyed employees from 113 companies across the UK. The employees were asked how their working day is different now compared to being in the office, if they would like to continue working from home after the pandemic passes, and how employers could further help support those working from home.

Nearly half of all SME employees said that their mental health had taken a hit from working at home. The study asked workers if they had noticed problems with communication, working hours, and desk set-up with their new working environments. Only 22% of participants said they had no issues at all.

What Do Employees Want From Companies?

The study highlighted three main issues for remote workers;

• Casual Contact
Three in five employees said they missed having face-to-face interactions with coworkers.

• Wellbeing Support
47% of respondents said that their mental health had been hit hard by the isolation of working from home, a poor working environment, and other elements of working from home.

• Social Time
Nearly half of employees wanted more social contact with fellow employees as part of their working day. Things such as daily video calls or quizzes can help.

The specifics of what employees wanted remained the same across the board, no matter the size of the company. The survey did show that different-sized companies were adapting differently to the situation, however.

What Can SMEs Do to Support Remote Workers?

Survey respondents were asked about how their habits have changed now they work from home. These responses were measured against elements known to better employee wellbeing. The most commonly reported problems with working from home were;
• Not taking hourly breaks, recommended for health and safety reasons
• Not taking breaks to stretch or do other physical activities
• Using uncomfortable equipment and desks
• Impractical working hours

Wildgoose says the findings show that remote working has presented challenges for all companies, no matter their size. Smaller companies, in particular, have been affected, as small companies have a sense of camaraderie that contributes to a healthy working environment. It is hard for workers to stay motivated without those connections, which is why regular team-building exercises are so important right now. Companies that have encouraged social interactions and performed team-building activities have had fantastic results.

Office workers take lots of little breaks to talk to their coworkers, whether they realize it or not. These small breaks are important to health, wellbeing, and productivity. Humans are social creatures, and they need regular interaction. Even the most introverted person requires some level of human interaction. The social interactions of the workplace are more important than many companies realised, and they would do well to find ways to foster that same environment for remote workers. Have regular team meetings, conduct one-to-one conversations with employees, and continue to focus on team-building and other healthy exercises.

Jason Acker

Project manager for a multinational in the energy sector. Being a remote worker fits in perfectly with my home and family life. I still pay PAYE so I have all the same rights as the office based staff

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