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Video Interview: VROOM & PepTalk Remote Working & Employee Mental Health

This month, Shane Curtin, MD of VROOM Digital, spoke to Employee Well-being leaders, Bernard Brogan and Ailís McSweeney of PepTalk about the impact of remote work on employee mental health and how employers can offer their employees advice and support during this difficult time. 

 

Both Bernard and Ailís have used their experience in the sporting world to develop a business that focuses on employee well-being, positive workplace communication and improved work performance. Recent statistics identified by data experts in VROOM Digital highlighted a clear well-being and mental struggle being experienced by employees since remote working as a result of COVID-19. This led to the VROOM x PepTalk collaboration. 

Topics discussed: 

  1. Wellbeing in both the Sporting and Working Environments
  2. Work Culture and Recreating that ‘Watercooler Moment’
  3. Virtual Team Building
  4. Employee Wellbeing Since Covid
  5. The Remote Work Environment & Productivity 
  6. Employers Helping Employees Struggling With Their Mental Health 
  7. Using Technology to Reach Employees Where They Are 
  8. Remote Work vs. Office Work 

Wellbeing in both the Sporting and Working Environments

Positive wellbeing holds great importance for human performance in both the sporting world and the working world. Communication is the key element to achieving lasting high performance. This link is what brought Bernard Brogan into the realm of employee wellbeing. Developing meaningful connections amongst employees is key to positive and lasting teamwork. 

 

Work Culture and Recreating that ‘Watercooler Moment’

Positive and supportive employee relationships are what makes a team work well together. The term ‘Watercooler Moment’ is one being discussed a lot in recent times. This is the general office chit chat that employees engage in while photocopying, getting some water or making a cup of tea. Due to the lack of opportunities to have such conversations as we continue to work remotely, it is important for employers to nurture and encourage a sense of community, albeit through digital means. While workers are not physically present in the office, creating a positive working culture is still possible. We thrive off human connection. Therefore, allocating time for this will result in a healthy working culture and environment. 

 

Virtual Team Building

Ailís McSweeney highlights that team building is not something PepTalk views as occurring once a year on an annual team day out. There are endless benefits for employers to engage in team building activities with their employees on a daily or weekly basis. PepTalk provides digital toolboxes to their clients which enable them to engage in activities that promote positive relationships and break down barriers in the virtual workplace setting. Implementing these changes results in increased productivity, drive and collaboration. 

 

Employee Wellbeing Since Covid

Office employees have been massively affected since COVID-19. Every remote working situation is different. Some workers may be trying to juggle kids, while others may live alone and have found spending so much time away from others quite difficult. Employee wellbeing strategies have had to be adapted as a result of the almost overnight, drastic change that the outbreak brought. This has resulted in many managers and team leaders communicating more effectively with their employees, which is something PepTalk have been strongly encouraging. Listening, giving feedback and opening up positive conversations is the way forward. 

 

The Remote Work Environment & Productivity 

Last month, there was a 110% increase in YouTube searches for ‘’Home Office Videos’’. Employees have been actively trying to maximise their new working environments. For most workers, full time remote work is a new experience. All home environments differ, and this should be taken into account by employers when it comes to productivity. Bernard discusses how due to his family situation, he often works late into the night, and for so many people, this is the case. For employers during this time, being aware that employees are navigating uncharted waters is key to productivity. Communicating that there is an understanding speaks volumes to struggling employees. Additionally, scheduling in time for a ‘virtual cuppa’ among teammates to tune out from work for a short time can be hugely beneficial as it encourages a 5 minutes break to zone out from work. 

 

Employers Helping Employees Struggling With Their Mental Health

Last month, our charity partner Turn2Me had a 300% increase in visits to their group counselling page. Drastic change has occurred for every single person in Ireland. For employees struggling with their mental health during this time, PepTalk recommends for employers to make helpful resources and information readily available. Opening the conversation is the first step. Acknowledgement by employers that an employee may be dealing with some difficult issues at the time, such as living alone during the lockdown period, is key to breaking the ice and opening up the channels of communication in a capacity that is more than solely work related. Ailís highlights the responsibility that employers have. From small gestures to picking up the phone and asking how their day is going, to offering a counselling or advice service if someone is struggling financially, physically or mentally can be a great help. 

 

Using Technology to Reach Employees Where They Are 

Technology is an excellent way to communicate with employees. This way, they can be reached anywhere and at any time. PepTalk uses a digital app that enables employers to reach their employees at any moment. Whether it be the need for a meditation video at 3am due to difficulty sleeping, or financial tips at the weekend, it is all easily accessible through digital means. Employers can be relied upon as a trusted source of information regarding such topics. Though since remote working, many employees have struggled with back-to-back video meetings and the constant  checking in online. Taking some time to step back and reset is key to sustained productivity. 

 

Remote Work vs. Office Work 

Our recent remote work survey highlighted that 71% of people miss colleague relationships the most since remote working. The communication between employees has changed in every aspect. The ability to grab a coffee with someone in the office is gone. Isolation and lack of human contact is the main negative that remote working brings. Though the benefits are endless; More time with family, no commute, more time to get things done. The balance between remote work and office work is now being heavily discussed. Many employees don’t want to return to their two hour morning commute everyday and might be delighted to do that just once a week instead. The conversation is opening up and it is clear the future of remote work has arrived. 

 


Full Video Interview 

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