Flexible Working vs Mental Wellbeing

Updated: Sep 9, 2020

Are we at risk of prioritising flexible working at the expense of mental wellbeing?

A close friend of mine told me last week that his company has announced they are allowing

all employees to work from home indefinitely. Granted this isn’t unusual in the current

climate as business adjust to new ways of working post Covid-19.

However, my friend suffers with mental health challenges and has really struggled with the

isolation over the lockdown period. He at least knew that once it was safer to do so, he

would be back in familiar surroundings with his colleagues. Now that's likely not to be the case. If he goes into the office, he is likely to be met by very few people, often not the

people he actually needs to interact with. It will almost certainly feel like an unrecognisable

place to what he had become accustomed to.

It brought to mind the role that HR plays in ensuring businesses don’t lose sight of mental

health when planning their approach to flexible working. Instead of jumping straight to mass

working from home, simply because it’s possible, HR must take a stand and should:

  • Ensure all employees have had the chance to discuss the impact that more permanent working from home might have

  • Involve employees in decision making

  • Make sure there is strong and constant communication

I’ll be honest, I have never been an advocate of mass working from home. We lose the

connections, the knowledge transfer and the purpose of our roles - the ‘why’ we do the jobs

we do.

Is ignoring mental wellbeing becoming an unintended consequence of reacting to Covid-19? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below...

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