The Corona Pandemic Threatens Physical Health, but it also Affects the Psyche
Updated: Jul 21
The Corona Pandemic Threatens Physical Health, but it also Affects your Psyche. What are the Startup Best Practises for Psychological Health?
Who would not like to be able to work from home instead of having to drive to the office for a day or two? Before the Corona crisis, working from home was considered desirable. No travel, fewer meetings, fewer interruptions, but more concentration and the opportunity to do sport or lie down for a short time in between to return to the desk rested. Even a right to a home office was being discussed.And now? The joy of helping to flatten the infection curve by working at the kitchen table at home did not last long for many. Especially women, parents, the self-employed and low-income earners are having a hard time with the current situation with negative effects on psychological health.The sudden change to remote work is a challenge for many companies and employees. Instead of a regulated home office, facts are created for which many companies are not prepared. Regardless of the necessary infrastructure for remote work such as software and adapted work processes, psychological health also plays an important role. Most people work in the home office and avoid social contacts as much as possible. Some try to manage childcare and work at the same time. Others are alone and have to completely restructure their everyday life. Some work in so-called system-relevant professions and are sometimes exposed to extreme stress. For many, this state of emergency leads to insecurity, loneliness and stress. Reactions that are absolutely normal and humane. Nobody knows how long this state will last, let alone how it will continue afterwards. And many people have reasonable concerns about their jobs and on their existence in general.
Research on Psychological Health at Work
Researchers have conducted a study to investigate the mental health of those who are suddenly forced to work from home. A research group from the Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin. The study was started shortly after the beginning of the ordered contact restrictions. The first results show: With increasing duration of home office or forced leave, the proportion of those who feel badly about it increases. Many of the factors surveyed had worsened significantly within one week. For example, dissatisfaction with the job had risen. If we differentiate between parents according to gender, we can also see that mothers and fathers experience the home office differently. Work satisfaction declined more strongly among mothers in the home office than among fathers in the home office (difference of four percentage points). The same applies to overall life satisfaction.Questions arise such as for example how to deal with the sudden isolation at home? What can each individual do to avoid feeling lonely and isolated from their colleagues? What can be realized practically without much effort?In order not to lose important key employees in your company now, it is also important as an employer to take the right measures. A possible initiative could be to encourage employees to use their L&D budget in order to offer them a little variety in their home office on the one hand and to be able to bind them to the company on the other. Read our blogpost about why now is the time to redeem the L&D budget:
Warning: Bore-out Instead of Burn-out
According to the researchers, the factors for burnout in the home office are decreasing, but the phenomenon of bore-out is increasing.
What does Bore-out mean?
Bore-out means that office workers experience boredom, diminishing learning opportunities and a crisis of meaning at work. Studies show that boredom in the job and lack of personal development were reported by a quarter of people. According to the scientist, the consequences of bore-out can be depression and anxiety disorders. The cardiovascular and immune systems are also weakened. But there is no need to panic: In contrast to burn-out, the symptoms might disappear within days or weeks when the personal situation changes. In the home office, people have more time to brood and less exercise. This increases feelings of anxiety and stress. At the moment the scientists do not see any general danger and there are a few easy actions that can be taken which should make your time in the home office easier, in order to protect psychological health and prevent psychological stress.
It is important not to leave employees alone with these symptoms and feelings. They need to know that what they are feeling is totally normal and nothing they need to be ashamed of. One way of coping with such struggles is to get professional help. This is why we offerImpact Sessions, digital counselling to help with psychological health. We have professionally trained psychologists in our team who are able to figure out the needs of each individual in order to assist them coping with their current situation.
What Should be your Startup Best Practices for Psychological Health?
There are basically two important starting points through which each individual can make himself mentally fit for the crisis: psychological health and physical factors are closely related. The first group of measures is about regaining a feeling of mental control. This can be achieved by cultivating or intensifying social contacts - in corona times this is done digitally rather than personally outside the family (tipshere). Currently, one can also become particularly involved in society by helping risk groups or other people in need, for example by shopping. You can create a sense of achievement, for example by doing or learning new things that you have wanted to do for a long time. Numerous online courses and tutorials, often free of charge, offer good opportunities for this. There are also physical factors: you have to keep moving to keep your cardiovascular system and immune system on the go. In order to prevent those feelings of anxiety and stress there are some easy precautions each and everyone of you can carry out to organise, structure and just make your home office routine more pleasant:
1. Routine is Key
Routine helps to organize the home office day: Record the daily routine on a piece of paper and embarrass yourself about it. Besides work, there must be fixed "slots" for meals, hobbies and sports. If you look after children at home, make a plan for them too.
2. Defending Privacy
If you have been spontaneously sent to the home office, you probably don't have a fancy, prepared desk waiting for you. Find yourself a spot in your flat you would most likely work from. Declare this one place your workplace and set yourself up there. Keep your work equipment within reach: cables, headphones, enough to drink, pen and paper. If you have a specific place, switching on and off from work mode will be much easier.
3. Treat Yourself with Wholesome Meals
The effect of good food on morale has always been known - and should also be considered in the home office. Take time to cook, make menu plans. There are many websites that provide you with meal ideas like https://www.kitchenstories.com/de. If you are living in a shared flat or together with your partner, you could help to take turns with who is responsible for the cooking. However, it is important to plan for "fasting days", where people tend to eat simply. Otherwise the pounds will put on too quickly especially with less exercise.
4. Be Active
Being in a home office means that you move a lot less. Since the gyms are also closed, many people are not able to workout the way they were used to. Nevertheless, you should try to get as much exercise as possible. There are numerous videos on Instagram and youtube with home workouts that don't require much more than a mat and sports clothes. Try for example https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rFFFSdYk01A. Physical exercise also has a proven anti-depressive effect and makes us more balanced. Scientists have proven that working out helps to cope with stress and that people are able to developing a reaction-reducing effect. However, doing home workouts might not be for everyone. Don’t force yourself to do something you don’t enjoy. A good start is also to take a walk by yourself outside or maybe to some Yoga or stretching at home.
5. Communicate your Boundaries
Maybe you have roommates, family you live with or just very sociable neighbours. In any case: Communicate your working hours. When you are at home, it looks to many as if you are always available for a chat. Communicate your boundaries clearly when you notice that they are not self-evident. If you share your home with children, this is of course another house number that offers a lot of distraction. Then make sure you have enough entertainment for everyone: games, puzzles, colouring books, etc. should definitely be stocked up.Distractions are unavoidable but let's be honest, even in the office you don't work non-stop. In the home office the distractions are simply of a different nature. And that doesn't have to be a bad thing. We are not machines that work eight hours straight. Take little breaks, but choose your distractions carefully. A quick chat with a family member or roommate, a short breathing exercise or five minutes of stretching. Find out what is good for you in between.
6. Stay in Contact
If everyone sits at home alone, the team spirit can quickly be lost. Keep coordinating with your team and your superiors viaSlack. Continue to hold regular meetings via video calls and move the coffee party from the kitchen to the messenger service. At DRIVEIMPACT we hold regular team meetings and events, this way you will keep the feeling of working together on something. You could include team lunches as well as working out together in the evening after work. Schedule a Googlehangouts meeting with your team.
7. Enjoy the Advantages of the Home Office
Even if forced measures are never nice, the home office has a few advantages: Comfortable clothes, no annoying commute to work, you don't have the possibility to cook lunch in the normal office routine. Maybe you use the opportunity to finally do yoga every morning, bake your own bread or simply spend more quality time with your family during lunch time. In any case, use the situation for something you can enjoy.For tips and activities on how to improve engagement during isolation see our blog post: How digital events and activities can strengthen your company culture during isolation.