Posted by Brittany on April 16, 2021
While the option to work from home has allowed many businesses to continue to operate at full capacity - it is not without its challenges. Throughout the COVID-19 situation, BTI has been fully compliant with recommendations from the Ministry of Health and other government agencies.
These recommendations, which had us working from home completely in March 2020, led to BTI introducing a hybrid model in the summer, balancing home and in-office settings interchangeably, to our short-lived full-time in-office return in the fall of 2020. Since then we have been exclusively working from home, with the option to go into the office as needed. While there may be little consistency from our provincial leadership on what is going on, BTI has navigated the transitions one day at a time to provide a completely seamless and consistent experience for our client and vendor partners.
But as a close-knit, highly interactive team, the challenges of working from home are not unique to BTI. Some of these challenges span the realm of technology, communication, and collaboration. The big one the news media is starting to pick up on, is navigating the mental health hardships as a result of this ongoing mess. These hardships come in all shapes and forms as unique as each of us, whether from the at-home work setting itself or from the fall out of the ongoing pandemic — like lockdowns, state of the world anxiety, social isolation, gaps in childcare, etc.
We are also seeing new terms like "Blursday" to describe the lack of boundaries between work and home life, as well as "Zoom fatigue" which describes the feeling of exhaustion that comes from a day of back-to-back virtual meetings, make their way into conversations as part of our current reality.
While there is nothing any one company can do to solve these problems overnight, we have compiled a few ideas of different things organizations can do to ensure mental health is a part of the conversation and nurtured in the workplace:
What people need from their workplace has changed in the past year, which is why it is important for organizations to build communities where individuals can thrive. Since the days of a lunch party or after-work social hour are in the rear-view for now, we need to fill that gap to foster team building and friendships while providing social, fun, and supportive environments. At BTI, we have twice daily touch bases with the entire team to talk about current projects, life, and beyond. It helps us to feel united and sets the stage for impromptu conversations, insights, and ideas.
How can organizations do this?
Even though we could all admit to our share of Zoom fatigue here and there, using it for good can not be undermined. Here are some ideas of ways to use virtual meetings to cultivate community.
Move and Breathe!
It is a fact that mental and physical health are connected, which is why many organizations are encouraging team members to take a break from sitting in front of a screen and move! Some workplaces have organized walking and step challenges, walking meetings, and other creative ways to make space for movement every day. At BTI we offer an online Yin yoga class once per week to all interested team members. This is an opportunity to relax, to release tension, and get into deep connective tissues that are negatively impacted by long days sitting in front of a computer. The meditative nature of a Yin practice allows our team to get centered, utilize our breath, and focus on the present moment.
How can organizations do this?
While an in-house Yogi may be an advantage to our weekly Yoga session, there are lots of resources, local teachers, and small fitness-focused businesses that you can reach out to, to facilitate your own weekly movement sessions. There are also apps like Headspace, FitBit, Sleepscore, and Apple Health, to name a few, to provide those interested with on-demand inspiration and coaching.
Talk About it, Shame-Free
While having a safe place to talk and share is a paramount piece of the puzzle when it comes to maintaining homeostasis with our mental health, there are always resources that go the extra mile. Here is one from the CDC and another from the Ottawa Public Health Unit.
At BTI, it is our belief that social distancing does not have to equate to social isolation. And while these times are, no doubt, challenging - focusing on what we can do is always the most productive.
What are you doing to nurture mental health in the workplace - connect with us today!