Supporting employee wellness as a vital aspect of company policy has come into stark relief amid the global coronavirus pandemic. Many employees find themselves working from home, and feel the absence of those support structures usually taken for granted in the office. The effects of the change are felt across the board.
Although some relaxation in the regulations came on Saturday August 15, with President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement of Lockdown Level Two, the understanding is that those who can still work from home should do so.
Level Two has brought huge relief to many, yet at Boomerang SA, as with other companies, it does usher in the era of a home/office hybrid model that might become part of a new norm.
At the office, Boomerang employees thrive in an atmosphere where connecting, enthusiasm and praise for team effort are the order of the day. The daily social support previously enjoyed in the office environment is sorely missed when working from home.
Inevitably, employees’ mental and physical wellness has been compromised during this trying time. New challenges have come thick and fast, such as maintaining productivity with continual interruptions from family, creating a professional environment at home, addressing stress levels, and not falling into the trap of working overtime when one would ordinarily have called it quits at the end of the day at the office.
At Boomerang, we are committed to providing our agents with the resources they need to maintain the high morale that is key to our world-class business offering.
There are significant changes linked to the transition to working from home, and then to a home/office hybrid model. Not to mention employees having to adjust to lockdown restrictions and regulations. Therefore, our in-house life coach has stepped up to provide pointers on how to maintain wellness whilst navigating this “new normal”. These are published regularly to our Facebook page. Furthermore, we provide life-coaching services to those who require additional assistance.
Changes in the workplace are known to be a leading cause of stress, and stress has an adverse impact on health. This becomes apparent with the move to work from home.
It’s notable that a 2017 United Nations study of 15 countries found that among people who worked mostly from home, 41 percent considered themselves “highly stressed”, while this number came in at 25 percent for in-office workers.
Reducing overall stress is a priority and is best achieved by adopting a healthy lifestyle, maintaining a balance between work and personal life, setting appropriate boundaries, and not sweating the small stuff.
It’s all too easy to become sedentary at home, with a brisk walk to work and a visit to the gym no longer part of the schedule. Research has shown that doing regular aerobic exercise is a quick win when it comes to alleviating stress. Home-based workouts are the cure here, and can include anything from yoga and Pilates to skipping, or a session on the exercise bike.
For the employees who are able to return to the office, falling back into a more familiar routine can only be beneficial.
Then, when working from home, there’s the setting of boundaries and keeping work separate from restful home life is the next challenge. It’s more important to set up a dedicated work space and to resist the temptation to operate from the couch. Keep leisure spaces for relaxation, and work spaces for work.
The value of those chats around the office water cooler has also become apparent as we grapple with restrictive social distancing and a concomitant sense of isolation. Even in “normal times”, loneliness and social isolation are seen as “twice as harmful to physical and mental health as obesity,” according to a paper published in 2015 on the Association of Psychological Science research repository.
The most effective way to maintain social connection during this time is on digital platforms. At Boomerang, we’ve leveraged online tools to ensure regular check-ins with colleagues.
With COVID still a factor, it may be many more months before we see our contact centre back to full capacity. As such, we continue to provide resources and support to our staff in their home environment, as well as the office.