How to protect mental well-being working from home


Working from home has it’s ups and downs – not having to commute to work each day can be a plus, but some workers struggle with missing interaction with teammates, or switching their laptop off at night

Working from home is becoming increasingly common, meaning that workers are able to adopt a flexible working style whether it is to stay home and take care of a sick child or simply because they don’t have any meetings. Regardless, it’s important that to take steps that help ensure everyone is staying connected and mentally healthy, even from a distance.

Here are four tips for supporting and empowering your team from afar:

1. Communicate
Just because a person is working from home, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re working on their own. You might not be able to see your team, but they’re still there, and it’s important you maintain that communication. Make sure you maintain regular contact via video calls using the likes of Microsoft Teams or Zoom, chatting via apps such as Slack, or simply talking over the phone.

If it’s appropriate, encourage your team to organise virtual coffees – it’s a great way for them to stay connected with their teammates.

2. Create a defined workplace
Nobody has to transform their home, but having a defined space at home that is specifically for work helps to create separation between work time and the other parts of a person’s life.

Encourage your team to put away the laptop, turn off the phone, and physically move away from their workspace once the day’s work is done. Whether they decide to go as far as having a separate office or they simply rearrange some of their furniture to define a clear office space, check in with your team and ensure they have separated their work from non-work life.

3. Cut out distractions
Whether it’s turning off notifications or ignoring the housework, reducing distractions is the key to being efficient while working from home. Be aware that we get used to the familiar distractions in the workplace and develop strategies for dealing with these. But, the distractions at home can be different and your team may find them more difficult to resist.

As the manager, you might be tempted to continually check in with your team. But, put yourself into their shoes. Don’t bombard them with messages and put them under unnecessary pressure. When it comes to working from home, a little trust goes a long way.

Finally, keep work chat within work time. If you really must send that email outside of work hours, ensure your team know that they do not need to respond to it until the next working day, unless there is a different understanding about working ‘out of hours’.

4. Set realistic goals
Working from home doesn’t mean you should suddenly expect your team to become distraction-free workhorses. Set them achievable goals, and credit them when they get smaller tasks done. Encourage them to also do this themselves, as they are effectively now in charge of managing their time.

Essentially, be careful not to treat your team differently just because they’re working from home. Don’t dishearten them with crushing volumes of work, make sure they know you’re available if they ever need anything, and reward them regularly for good work.

Working from home can be great, but be wary about your team working more intensely. It’s down to you to help them manage their workloads and guide them towards efficient working.


Mahi Haumaru Aotearoa, WorkSafe New Zealand