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COVID-19 has created many new challenges for employers and employees. One of those is that of working arrangements as a new LinkedIn survey shows.
Thousands of workers have joined the remote workforce in recent months in an attempt to curtail the spread of COVID-19. As a result, many are now experiencing rising stress levels as they struggle to separate their home and work life.
So, what does this mean for employers and how can they help?
The survey has revealed that employees are working as much as 38 extra hours per month during the lockdown. Whether employees work remotely or in the office, employers still need to comply with working time laws.
These extra hours have the potential to lead to problems, as shown in the recently published Workplace Relations Commission annual report which found that employee hours of work claims rose threefold in 2019.
Employee stress and anxiety on the rise
The survey examined the lockdown home working experience of over 2,000 employees. A large number of younger workers reported mental wellbeing concerns that are connected to their new home working set up.
- 70% of workers under-24 reported feeling stressed or anxious.
- Over 63% of 25-34-year-olds reported increased anxiety levels.
- 61% of men surveyed reported feeling stressed. This was more than the proportion of women reporting stress at 54%.
Results varied across age categories when it came to feelings of isolation. For instance, 46% of over 55s reported missing their colleagues. This statistic contrasted sharply with the feelings of under 24s, with only 24% reporting they missed their colleagues.
Another notable statistic is that over a fifth of employees reported feelings of isolation and loneliness.
Time to start planning a flexible future?
While employees reported feeling stressed as a result of working from home, over 50% would like to continue working from home nonetheless. They also said they would consider other flexible working arrangements. That could mean a flexible future for many employers and their employees.
Helping employees handle challenges
The move from the office to remote working was a quick one. So, it’s only understandable that employees have concerns about changes happening around the world. To help employees from the outset, there are a few steps employers can take with regards to mental health support.
Ensuring that employees are taking their daily and weekly rest periods is a good place to start. To prevent employees being overworked, employers should record the working time of employees under working time laws. This obligation also applies to employees working on-site and remotely.
Staying in regular contact with employees will help employers reduce the risk of them feeling isolated. Managers also need to consider the culture of their organisation in deciding how to measure performance and monitor employees. Employees need support as people and not just as employees during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Other steps such as helping remote workers to establish healthy routines, encouraging them to take breaks and to get fresh air will help reduce the level of stress experienced while working from home.
How an Employee Assistance Programme can help
For those that can do so, remote working will continue right up to phase five of the Roadmap to Reopening. It may even be a more widespread work practice going forward.
As a result, the support provided by an Employee Assistance Programme has never been more relevant.
These work-based support services provide independent counselling for employees who have any personal concerns that they don’t want to raise directly with their employer. In a time of great change, this type of individual support could be invaluable to both staff and business owners.