Lone worker wellbeing in the age of COVID–19

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How do you support a lone or remote worker? How do you ensure they continue to receive training and guidance?

Employers are already aware of the risks posed to lone workers such as security guards, cleaners and drivers, but many fail to appreciate that home workers also require the same protections. And with COVID–19 forcing most of us into our home offices, the question of how to support lone and remote workers has become more important than ever.

Indeed, research by the HSE suggests lone and remote workers are particularly susceptible to a lack of support; this is one of the leading causes of workplace stress.

Schedule meetings—and make them video where possible

Remote workers lack human interaction, and in stay-at-home Britain this feeling of loneliness will be especially acute. That’s why it’s vital for managers to schedule regular meetings, create team group chats on tools such as Skype for Business and Microsoft Teams, and hold video conferences and even social events like team drinks.

These meetings don’t even need to be long—just fifteen minutes here and there to discuss work and any concerns employees may have, and to keep fostering a kind of team spirit.

In more normal times, lone workers should still be supported in this way, as well as regularly scheduled in-person meetings, with either the lone or remote worker travelling to the office, or their manager meeting them at a neutral location like a café.

Lone workers must have an outlet for seeking guidance and advice, and to receive feedback on their work. By maintaining frequent personal contact with their managers and within their team, they will feel supported even across large distances.

Offer training and career development

There are countless online tools for training and career development. Many companies now sign up to LinkedIn Learning, which is a superb platform for advancing skills and enhancing knowledge across countless topics.

Furthermore, if your firm offers training courses, make sure your lone and remote workers have access to them, and establish a growth plan to encourage them to take advantage of any sessions and workshops you might offer.

You can also encourage employees to run workshops and seminars over video to share their areas of expertise, and help their colleagues upskill.

Support mental health and wellbeing

Lone workers can suffer from a lack of support when it comes to health and wellness. Divorced from the office environment where help is readily and immediately available, they are more at risk than anybody from ‘suffering in silence.’

Having a proper lone worker policy is an essential first step. This should lay out the responsibilities managers and human resources have towards lone and remote workers, and ensure employees know how, when and from whom to seek help. They should also be encouraged to visit the office if they need urgent support—research suggests employees with mental ill-health benefit from returning to the office.

Many companies already have investigation procedures in place in the event of a physical accident, but few have the same for mental ill-health. These are essential for identifying the cause and solutions to poor workplace wellbeing.

Find out more at Workplace Wellbeing Show 2020

Taking place on 8–10 September 2020 at ExCeL London, Workplace Wellbeing Show 2020 will feature expert speakers and suppliers of innovative wellness solutions ready to share their knowledge and expertise. Get your free ticket today to access wellbeing excellence.