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Thought leadership

Some new research in this week’s newsletter timed to coincide with World Wellbeing Week suggests that almost half of employees have been concerned about their ability to manage stress during the pandemic crisis.

While restrictions on returning to work are beginning to ease, many organisations will continue to work from home for much of the foreseeable future, with a separate research study finding that three-quarters of people expect to work from home more often after the lockdown.

And while there are clear benefits to an increase in remote working – flexibility, increased time with family, and reduced commuting – supporting employees’ wellbeing virtually can be difficult to facilitate.  The crisis has added an extra layer of stress and concern to our everyday lives, and it can be hard to concentrate and remain motivated at work.

Some of the primary concerns people highlighted in The Myers-Briggs Company’s survey were the economy going into a recession, health of family and friends, and the public not following guidance. These stressors can be difficult to address within the limitations of virtual working, where communication can be stilted and a lack of face-to-face interaction makes it harder to check in with colleagues regularly or pick up on physical and verbal cues that someone may not be coping. Presenteeism is also harder to pick up on in a virtual environment, and managers can’t assume that because people are online, they are being productive.

John Hackston, Head of Thought Leadership at The Myers-Briggs Company advises: “People feel afraid to talk about things like having difficulty concentrating, because they’re already worried for their jobs and don’t want to be seen as ‘slacking’, when they’re not. On the flip side, presenteeism doesn’t necessarily equate to productivity, and the pressure to be ‘always on’ in a virtual environment can have detrimental effects on morale and productivity. The fact that most of us are working remotely, with less easy communication and more room for misunderstanding, makes things worse.”

The issues and challenges thrown up by this research will be examined in detail at our 2020 Virtual Internal Communications conference in the autumn. Look forward to welcoming you there.

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