Wellness Through Technology: Regaining Connectivity, Certainty and Control

As April winds down, we wanted to reflect on Stress Awareness Month. As the country starts to reopen again, the relaxation of rules will undoubtedly leave many of us feeling stressed and anxious for what the future holds.

How the pandemic affected stress and mental health

Over the last year, 74% of UK adults have felt so stressed at some point they were overwhelmed or unable to cope (Mental Health Foundation). With the majority of our working lives having been spent indoors, and many team meetings carried out virtually through a screen, it’s been difficult for many organisations to mirror the in-person experience of being surrounded by your colleagues.

That being said, there’s a chance that remote working has become a permanent option for many businesses, with benefits such as better work-life balance, positive environmental impact and improved inclusivity supporting a more flexible approach to the structure of the workplace.

Nonetheless, some people may be finding it difficult to adjust to the more permanent changes that might come as a result of remote working.

The Stress Management Society and Huawei AppGallery surveyed 2,000 British adults about their mental health during the rise of the pandemic. The study found some crucial statistics:

  • 65% of people felt more stressed since Covid-19 restrictions were put in place
  • 53% felt a rise in their anxiety
  • 44% said they felt more depressed than usual

The study identified that the main causes for concern were the uncertainty, lack of control in their lives and disconnection from the world.

Here’s how we’re alleviating those major concerns here at TSG:

Microsoft Teams rooms: simulate the office experience

The office experience is a tricky one to try to emulate when your employees are working from home.

Some employees may be experiencing greater stress as they feel pressure to always be sitting down and working at their computer. Whereas, when we’re in the office, we often move around and have chats with our colleagues – whether that’s by the water cooler or while we’re making a brew in the kitchen.

It is important that you let your employees know that they don’t always have to be switched on or alone when taking breaks. You should try taking a virtual break on Microsoft Teams. Setting up a separate chat room for breaks can be a great way to get people talking and can help to reduce stress amongst employees and remind them they do not have to be ‘on’ 24/7.

Use SharePoint to stay connected

Many of us, myself included, have had to meet our teams remotely and so have missed out on the ‘bonding’ experience that comes with working face-to-face. In an office setting, we’re able to keep up to date with work updates simply through small chit-chat or updates in general on our colleagues. Things such as birthdays or other major life events are ways we celebrate together as colleagues, but working remotely may have made this more difficult to keep on top of.

That’s where an internal intranet through a platform such as SharePoint can make a difference. Having an internal work-only social media platform can make a huge difference to how your employees stay connected with one another. It helps to create an online community that can have regular updates, be it work-related or personal. No longer will people need to feel left out of any major announcements and can get involved in the conversations going on around them, at their own pace and leisure.

Start a team playlist

They say ‘music brings the people together’… and we couldn’t agree more. A shared playlist created of songs from employees, can help people to feel close to their colleagues as they listen to it during their day.

In fact, it can do more than strengthen bonds – it can also reduce stress. According to VeryWellMind, a study conducted in 2013 suggested that listening to music had an impact on the human stress response, particularly the autonomic nervous system.

Celebrate your team wins at the end of each week

For a lot of people, it can be difficult to remain positive throughout the week. The pandemic has changed the perspective of what we might consider ‘wins’ but even celebrating them can feel isolating for some employees.

Sometimes, it’s just being able to get through a lot of work throughout your week, or even supporting other members of the team. Regardless, it might help elevate your employee’s emotions on a Friday afternoon to relax with the rest of your team and celebrate your achievements together.

What else you can do to support your colleagues and loved ones

  • Create a space where your employees can freely and openly talk about stress
  • Share what you do to help cope in stressful situations
  • Have patience with those who seem to be exhibiting stress and ensure you react with compassion and empathy
  • Look after yourself too – stress can creep up on you and it’s important to realise when it’s time to try to relax