Updated: 19 March 2020

Why looking after your remote team's mental health is essential

It's not just the practical items like a desk and computer required to make remote work effective. Support to employees mental health and wellness is a growing concern for many companies and one Sydney-based startup is doing their best to help out.

The COVID-19 pandemic has put enormous pressure on organisations around the world and across all industries and sectors to find effective ways to work and study remotely. The skyrocketing stock price of video conferencing company Zoom is just one sign of this.

In the rush to meet practical needs to work from home, many organisations overlook the need to find new ways to provide social interaction and emotional support.

Working from home and in isolation is known to have significant effects on employees’ mental health. This is exacerbated by high levels of stress and anxiety people are experiencing due to COVID-19. We only have to look at our supermarket shelves to realise that anxiety and uncertainty are causing us all to behave in ways we normally wouldn’t.

Frustrations and difficulties caused by working from new environments, adapting to different technologies and dealing with all sorts of interruptions and distractions (technical and otherwise) is a volatile mix. Ironically, even while workforces are out of their usual workplace, there is significant potential for workplace issues to be amplified and new issues to emerge.

The World Health Organisation acknowledged this just two days ago when they released a 31 point guidance on how to best look after stress levels and mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Research published by the Harvard Business Review has shown that workers feel more alienated and disconnected when working remotely than when onsite.

Rosie Weatherley from the mental health charity MIND says that research has shown that more mental health issues will be raised by the next stages of self-isolation and quarantine. Beyond Blue advises us to 'stay connected with friends, family and colleagues.'

The solution for some businesses and schools has been Parampara, a Sydney-based software company that enables business leaders to write interactive messages that look like text messages.

With Parampara, staff and students receive knowledge from the leaders in a personalised and interactive messaging format, while leaders are provided details of responses and feedback in one easy to review location.

Sessions are being sent out weekly or even more frequently in some cases, to check in as well as offering tips and tricks for keeping a clear head and staying productive during these challenging times.

Parampara is currently making free accounts available for those who would like to use its interactive messaging tool. Paid support and content creation packages are also available.

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