2-Oct-20 | News

When Zoom Is The Workplace: Facts About Remote Work & Mental Health

animated picture of a computer with few people doing online meeting

Despite Zoom stepping up to create a new conception of the workplace, the fact that workers are now restricted to their homes creates significant problems linked to mental health issues. One of the issues that have come to the fore is the idea of “Zoom Burnout.”

In the Zoom workplace era, managers will need to start rethinking the idea of mental health issues in the workplace. This article looks at how the new workplace, facilitated by Zoom meetings, may exacerbate the mental health issues that already existed before the pandemic.

Common Health Issues in the Workplace

While there are numerous types of mental health issues in the workplace, here are a few common ones identified by Harvard Health Publishing:

Depression: Employees suffering from depression may be nervous, short-tempered, and fidgety, withdraw from activities, be passive during meetings, and generally fail to meet the demands of the job at hand.

Bipolar Disorder: Presents in employees as dramatic mood swings, from extreme excitement to depression. Even though employees who have bipolar disorder may look busy, they may be disruptive and unproductive.

The judgment of employees who have bipolar disorder can become questionable. For instance, an employee may send an email with confidential information to people who should not access such information.

Anxiety Disorders: Can be identified among employees who are often tired, struggle to concentrate, are restless, and are excessively worried about their ability to do the job. Such employees may become needy and require constant assurance that their performance is acceptable.

ADHD: Could result in employees generally failing to accomplish the tasks at hand. This inability may result from a failure to manage tasks, refusing follow instructions, and quarrels with workmates.

10 Tips for Improving Mental Health in the Workplace

In the unprecedented era of the Zoom workplace, employers and employees need to take a step back and reconsider mental health in the place of work.

For managers, knowing the proper ways to tackle employees’ mental health issues is as important as making sure they are productive. Here are some ways for managers to properly handle the Zoom workplace-linked mental health issues:

1. Identify work-related mental risk factors linked to Zoom

Mental health issues in the traditional workplace have been known for some years. However, the ones associated with working from home using video conferencing apps are relatively new.

Employees may not be clear about what is expected from them during these interactions. Therefore, the manager has to provide clarity around expectations and goals and give employees adequate support to do their work.

2. Identify symptoms of mental health problems of employees working from home

Eye redness, lack of focus, saying nothing during an entire meeting, and looking exhausted, are symptoms of employees who have become affected by the constant virtual meetings. Managers should look out for these signs in their employees, and provide solutions as swiftly as possible.

Managers should also introduce smaller and one-on-one meetings for employees who cannot seem to voice out their own opinions or ideas in Zoom meetings. This could allow employees to voice their challenges and give the manager a better chance to detect other problems.

3. Develop a positive Zoom workplace

Feeling valued is one of the most critical needs of humans. Thus, managers need to indicate that all employees play an essential role in the business’s success. This can be done by ensuring that the employees have all the resources they need to do their work from home and they are fully involved during meetings. No employees should be left out so that they hear about changes from others.

4. Address mental health issues no matter the cause

Since there is a grey line between the workplace and the home in the Zoom workplace, people managing people need to realize the importance of dealing with mental health issues without necessarily focusing on what caused them. Also, an employee with mental health challenges at home will likely bring these issues to the workplace. Ensuring that employees know where they can get assistance is vital.

5. Identify forms of communication that employees are comfortable with

Zoom is useful, but, managers should not force video interaction, because some employees may not be comfortable. To cater for everyone, consider switching between zoom meetings and other communication channels and avoid over-communicating.

6. Make turning on the camera optional

The anxiety to look appropriate on camera is an issue that employees have to deal with. If the option to turn on the camera is left to employees, they will feel less pressured to appear correctly dressed up for the meeting.

Employees can also be assisted through training on how to use the screen for meetings.  For instance, Gianpiero Petriglieri, an Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior, advises, “Having your screen off to the side, instead of straight ahead, could also help your concentration, particularly in group meetings” (Source).

7. Collect feedback to improve the process

One way of ensuring that everyone is comfortable is by knowing how people feel about the Zoom meetings. Ask your team what’s working and what’s not, then use the feedback to build a better video meeting experience.

8. Reduce stress by communicating clearly

Some mental health issues in the workplace can be caused by unclear and inefficient communication. Thus, managers need to be clear about goals, deadlines, and where stuck employees should find help. A lack of clarity could leave employees anxious, in isolation, and relying mostly on assumptions.

9. Trust your employees

One of the issues that can lead to mental health challenges comes when managers micromanage and over-communicate because they do not trust their employees. If you are failing to trust your employees, you could be failing to develop a workplace that is positive and celebrates the strengths of employees.

10. Set boundaries on the work schedule

Working from home can tempt employees to overwork, which can strain their health and well-being. Thus, it is vital to encourage employees to keep a regular work schedule (Source). However, employees should be involved in making decisions about breaks, and when they are expected to be available for meetings.

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