2021 Predictions on Mental Health As We Continue to Work Remotely
For many businesses, 2020 displayed the most important piece to a company’s growth and success: its people.
Companies that have continuously worked on talent management during the pandemic are setting themselves up for long-term success. Creating ways to engage employees, encouraging leadership to step up and show gratitude for others, and developing employees through mentorship programs are some of the methods they are using to help their employees maintain their mental health.
Working remotely can lead to feelings of loneliness, increased stress, and difficulty concentrating and adjusting to the new work style. Still, we must recognize that remote work is part of the “new normal” and is here to stay as we continue to social distance and control the spread of COVID-19 into 2021, and will very likely remain in some form beyond the pandemic.
Since last March, we have discovered the toll as well as the positive impact remote work has had on mental health. Here are my predictions for what lies ahead in 2021 on how remote work will impact mental health:
- Increased empathy and compassion for others, leading to employees feeling respected and relatable to one another
Working remotely was an adjustment for all – roles ranging from the president of a company all the way to college student interns. Although this surfaced challenges, it helped bring together companies as a whole, and recognize greater potential and resilience to things that weigh us down. As a result, greater empathy, transparency and communication will continue to trickle down from leadership as we continue working remote.
- Virtual communication holds people accountable for showing up for others and helps to build confidence in one’s role
Meetings that take place virtually have their own sets of challenges, but it has ultimately brought together more efficiency and rapport-building like never seen before. There has been a shift from “dropping in” to share a quick update when we see someone in their office who doesn’t appear busy, to now being more respectful of others’ time and appropriately scheduling meetings. This has decreased the number of last-minute meeting cancellations, which are a sure way to decrease employee morale and harm working relationships.
Also, there is an assumption that with meetings being virtual, they don’t require everyone’s participation. Some people may view this as alleviating the stress of being put on the spot; however, virtual meetings can be more engaging and productive and help to develop more skills and competencies for the job. Many business owners, like myself, strongly encourage their employees to use their cameras for customer calls, as this helps to hold parties accountable for showing up and can help to build confidence and presentation skills.
- Greater focus on career advancements and goals within the company
Remote work has allowed for greater flexibility and control over one’s day-to-day. Employees, as a result of having more autonomy, have been more inclined to look ahead in their careers and recommend initiatives for company growth. According to a 2020 report, where data was captured before the Covid-19 pandemic, employees that worked virtually report their level of productivity, on average, 35-40% higher than their office counterparts.
If we conducted that same study starting March 2020, when companies shifted to remote work, there would be higher levels of productivity. Reasonings for this include: Managing ones’ own schedule to prioritize what needs to get done on a weekly basis, but also strategizing how to grow in a role and/or better serve the company long-term. We have also seen more mentor/mentee programs within organizations that help advise areas for improvement and how to work together to grow a certain aspect of the business.
As we proceed into the new year, we should be creating goals as they pertain to creating stronger working relationships virtually. One thing is for sure: business owners who have thrived during this time, or those faced with an ongoing battle to stay afloat, have all learned to pay better attention to employee wellness and showing up for their work family.