World Mental Health Day gives us all an opportunity to consider the importance of mental health and wellbeing, not only in our own lives, but also in those of our friends, family and colleagues.
No one can deny the monumental impact that COVID-19 has had on day-to-day routines, relationships, work and home circumstances. How we cope and adapt to these times determines our approach to managing our mental wellbeing, so, it is imperative that we remember the positive influences in our lives that can support us at this challenging time.
Catching up 'in' the workplace
When I reflect on the past six months supporting colleagues, the one constant message has been the importance of communication. Not just in the sense of ensuring we are all updated with practicalities based on the evolving guidance from the UK and Scottish Governments, but also the positive effects of maintaining relationships with each other.
Research highlights that interactions and relationships are important factors in offering a ‘sense of belonging’ within the work environment, with good social interactions supporting employee happiness and wellbeing.
Remote working has altered the dynamics of our work relationships. Some believe that the disappearance of the gentle buzz of office chat can stifle our opportunities to maintain our work friendships and relationships. And there are growing concerns across wider society that individuals are reporting increased feelings of loneliness and isolation when working from home, which can have a lasting impact on mental wellbeing.
Encouraging people to recognise the importance of preserving the fundamental aspects of supporting and communicating with each other has therefore been a key objective for me in my role as occupational health manager. One of the ways to achieve that is by facilitating conversation. And what better way to do that, than with the age-old practice of having a cup of tea?
That's why a ‘tea and coaster’ pack was sent out to all colleagues across Brodies; a gentle reminder of the importance of conversation with each other.
And as remote working looks like the default option for the foreseeable future, it's important to revisit and refresh how we keep in touch with our colleagues.
Top tips on keeping in touch
Here are my three top tips:
- Establish consistency in the working week to catch up with a colleague. Why not plan a regular Monday morning team call to catch up informally on everyone’s weekend and then focus on the week ahead?
- Be proactive and set up virtual meetings and phone calls with colleagues that can replace those trips for coffee or kitchen run-ins. Consider regular social coffee hubs or meetings within a team or practice area.
- Pick up the phone or press the video call button - these are a much more effective way of communicating than by email, social media or instant messaging. Hearing another voice means much more than a text.
This World Mental Health Day, the Mental Health Foundation is encouraging us all to ‘Tea and Talk’. Visit the website for more information on how you can support the campaign - and for some fantastic baking recipes to complement that freshly brewed cup of tea.