25 May 2020

This guide provides tips on how to support mental well-being in the workplace and at home when doing remote work in the event of a protracted coronavirus crisis and when returning to work draws closer.

A prolonged worry about the spreading of coronavirus, your health, the health of your loved ones and financial survival can take up your resources and make it difficult to concentrate on work. As the situation continues, it is important to take care of the mental well-being and recovery of employees, whose situation may vary.

Guidelines for the Employee:

1. Identify your own situation and your concerns

  • Some employees have moved to remote work due to the coronavirus crisis, and some have continued to work as in a normal situation. Others work in more stressful conditions than usual. Changes in the work situation require adjustment, even if the change means getting closer to normal everyday work.
  • The situation for the whole family may change as restrictions will gradually be lifted. When children return to school, it may be a relief, but it may also increase the anxiety about getting sick.
  • If you feel worried or overwhelmed, think about what makes you especially worried in this situation. Breaking the worry down into individual concrete things can make you feel more in control when you start processing the things one by one.
  • Try to identify the things you can affect. For example, you can make plans for your own work or for the summer vacation.
  • If you have trouble concentrating, make sure you have something pleasant to do and that your work also includes lighter tasks. Getting engrossed in your work can also make you feel better.

2. Control your workload

  • In this situation which has been caused by coronavirus, work arrangements that deviate from the norm have to be made and this burdens the employees. Try to delegate for later those asks that are not urgent or necessary. Discuss the importance of different tasks, and postponing them, with your supervisor. Think about solutions for the management of workload within your work community.
  • Take care of your own recovery and have breaks in your work. You can affect your own well-being with exercise. Go for a walk or a bike ride, for example. Exercise refreshes and decreases stress. For example, there are exercise instructions available online.

3. Don’t stay alone

  • If you work remotely a lot, make an effort to connect with your colleagues and supervisors daily by telephone or some other means of remote communication. You can sometimes talk about more than just business matters in telemeetings. You can even have virtual morning coffee breaks together!
  • Share your concerns with your colleagues or your loved ones because a shared worry is easier to bear. Keep in contact with your social networks by electronic means or meet during outdoor activities.
  • If necessary, you can also contact your supervisor, an occupational safety representative, the occupational health services or other bodies offering support at your workplace.

4. Take care of your colleague too

  • Each of us responds to stressful situations in his or her own way. Depending on the nature of the work, the coronavirus crisis may have meant different things for different people. Ask your colleague how he or she is doing. Show that you care and search for support for yourself in your work community. If you do not have a work community, look for peer support from your other networks.
  • Changes are burdensome, but they also create new opportunities. Think within your work community what new working methods you could put into practice in the future.

5. Follow the instructions given by the authorities and by your employer

  • Follow the information and the instructions given by your own organization and the bulletins released by the authorities such as thl.fi and ttl.fi. Remember, excessive use of various sources of information or the social media might also increase your own worries.

6. Pay attention to your ability to cope

  • We survive in exceptional times when we know how long we need to persevere. If the exceptional situation drags on and there is no precise information about when it will end, our mental resources will be put to the test.
  • Monitor your own ability to cope and, if necessary, seek expert help at the occupational health care. In addition to this, use self-care instructions, which can be found for example at Mielenterveystalo.

Guidelines for the Supervisor

1. Take care of all your employees

  • Working during the coronavirus crisis may have meant different things to different members of the work community. Some have been temporarily dismissed, some have worked remotely, some have fallen ill, some have cared for their sick loved ones, some have taken care of children or guided their education in addition to their own work. Therefore, returning to normal life is also different.
  • Remember to ask how people are doing and to ensure that information reaches everyone in a timely fashion. Make sure that everyone’s work tasks have been sorted out.

2. Set time aside for conversation

  • Have joint conversations about what preparing for the coronavirus situation means at your workplace in this situation and how you should act in the changed situation.
  • It is good to keep the conversation going because situations change quickly and in unusual circumstances the ability to receive information is usually weakened.
  • When possible, be in regular contact with your employees and give them permission to contact you even on more trivial matters. Aim to take into account the employees’ different living and family situations.
  • Make sure that the outlook for the future is maintained despite the uncertainty.

3. Communicate logically and clearly

  • Take into account the policies and guidelines given by your organization’s management. It is important not issue contradicting instructions at the workplace.

4. Take care of your employees

  • A prolonged exceptional situation may cause different reactions in different employees. For example, when returning to work, some may be worried about becoming ill while some would prefer a quick return to normal life. Changing situations and a prolonged exceptional situation may cause conflicts in the work community.
  • An employee’s abnormal behaviour may be a sign of overload. Prolonged stress causes varying symptoms in different people. If you are worried about an individual employee’s ability to cope, act according to the early care model of your workplace. Show that you care and want to help.

5. Take care of your own well-being as well!

  • The limitations on going to work, the changes in working practices and the rearrangements of work caused by coronavirus are exceptional in the national and even in the international situation.
  • In an exceptional situation, the supervisor has to take care of many different matters in addition to the smooth progress of work during normal working days. Make sure that there is an adequate amount of breaks during the working day and that your working days do not become too long. If possible, take a vacation. Take care of your own recovery and make sure that you receive support as well.

For more information, please contact viestinta@ttl.fi

More information:

Guidelines to support remote work