Written by Claudia Buitrago – Psychologist; expert in emotional management
Work is a fundamental part of our lives. Most of us want to enjoy it, devoting ourselves to it with passion and optimism. However, as the human beings that we are, there are times when it’s easier for us to connect to our work with joy and enthusiasm and other times when working entails other emotional states such as stress, anguish, and anxiety, among others.
The pandemic situation and the reality of doing our jobs from home, in the virtual mode, has challenged us in countless arenas, one of them being our emotional realm. So, we have found ourselves swinging between the joy and gratitude of having a valuable job, for example, and the feeling of overload and exhaustion that comes with having to deal with different roles (being a psychologist, being a parent, being a homemaker...), multiple facets in one place.
Given these circumstances, our emotions can be an invaluable source of health and energy, thus the importance of engaging with them, experiencing them, and focusing on ourselves while keeping our emotional needs in mind. In other words, learning to manage our emotions in a healthy way will open up paths and possibilities for discovering resources and skills that can help us continue to enrich ourselves in our work environment.
Exploring Emotional Management and Its Importance within Work Environments and Virtual Teams
We can think of emotional management as a set of skills that assist us with containing or expressing our emotions, in a given context, to achieve a given objective. The main skills that comprise healthy emotional management are:
- STOP: The ability to stop is essential to produce responses mediated by attention and reasoning. Within healthy emotional management, this ability allows us to notice the emotional manifestations that are emerging within us, in other words, to identify the emotional state that’s being presented.
- NAME: By naming the emotion that’s being presented, like SADNESS, for example, we recognize it and begin to make room for it. The ability to recognize emotion is essential in emotional regulation. It involves opening the doors to the world of emotions, just like a good initial encounter with one of our clients can open the path to a valuable and fruitful working relationship.
- ACCEPT: The ability to accept emotions consists of welcoming that which is present. In our daily life, we have to experience different weather conditions: rainy and cold days, hot and breezy days, hot and humid days, etc. We experience very different emotional states within ourselves in the same way. According to this analogy, their acceptance is seen in the use of an umbrella and a coat on rainy and cold days, which make it easier for us to move in that weather condition. For some people, for example, listening to relaxing music can help them to accept the presence of stress and/or anxiety.
- TAKE OWNERSHIP: Taking ownership of our emotions means taking responsibility for them. It’s true that an external variable, like the pandemic, affects our emotional world in such a way that emotions like fear and/or anger can emerge. Nevertheless, the pandemic is NOT responsible for these emotions. We’re responsible for them. This implies that it’s up to us to respond to them. The ability to respond in this way belongs to us—as does the ability to make use of it. From the moment we take responsibility for our emotions, the possibility of learning from them and transforming them will expand as well.
These are some of the skills we use in healthy emotional management. When we strengthen and develop skills like these, we have the pleasant sensation of being in tune with ourselves. This sensation often expands to our relationships with our virtual team so that we experience greater fluidity, coordination, synchronicity, and, above all, a nurturing work environment, one that feeds us and facilitates our learning and development as human beings and as professionals.
Beyond Emotional Management
When we stop to explore and investigate the process of managing our emotions in detail, discover the skills involved, and give ourselves the opportunity to refine them, we realize that these skills aren’t only essential for contacting our emotional world, but for relating satisfactorily with others and our external world as well. And, if we focus on our work context, we discover that they’re central to the achievement of our goals, to what we call productivity.
So, for example, stopping and listening can result in the discovery of a new business opportunity; naming the state of things that one of our clients is describing to us assertively can translate into a sense of understanding and empathy in this client; accepting and assuming responsibility in the face of a complex and/or difficult work situation can result in the mobilization of professional and personal resources to catalyze the growth and transformation of our business. From this perspective, investing in the emotional health of your teams, relying on a network of psychologists who are experts in emotional management, professionals in opening and sustaining spaces for the mental and emotional care of your workers, is without a doubt, a great investment.
Written by Angélica Gómez – Psychologist; expert in family, child rearing, and early childhood
A lot has been written, from the perspective of the care economy, about the difficulty of reconciling productive work with the care work involved in tending to life in its most vulnerable stages. Parenting, looking after infants, cleaning, and guaranteeing the well-being of children is care work, which takes place in the domestic space and which interrupts, now with more intensity, professional activity.
During the crisis caused by COVID-19, this extra workload became visible. It mainly affected the lives of women, who have historically been relegated to caregiving roles. The boundaries between the professional and the personal have become more blurred and one of the fundamental challenges for companies has been the extreme fatigue of workers, mainly those who work at home with children, with obvious negative effects on work performance and on the well-being of the team in general.
The arrival of a child has an impact on your professional life that isn’t restricted to the present day. However, the growing trend of remote work and the recent difficulties in educating children in a face-to-face manner presents us with a greater challenge.
How Can We Face This Challenge?
Helping remote workers reconcile parenting with their professional life will give us an effective way to build individual and collective well-being in our teams.
What Do We Need to Understand?
From the time a baby arrives, the parents undergo an identity crisis and their focus on status, professional achievement, and/or recognition can quickly collapse under the need to meet the demands of caregiving. It may seem that this crisis has been resolved when we return to work, but sometimes, this is just an illusion that keeps us from returning to our old roles and performing our jobs without difficulties. During the pandemic and with confined children, this frequent distress appears with more force and intensity.
How Can We Reconcile Parenting and Remote Work?
Given that dealing with this distress can be overwhelming, we often allow the wonderful opportunities that parenting presents pass by in order to boost our professional lives and settle for the fatigue of trying to perform.
However, with proper accompaniment—once we’ve accepted this profound process of transformation—we can mourn our former identity. When we’re ready to open up a space for our capacity to care, we can understand that raising is also creating and, therefore, that full parenthood offers us a precious opportunity to connect with our creativity.
Revising the social expectations that we’ve adopted, discovering the commands and rules that prevent us from authentically parenting, listening to and understanding the uniqueness of our children, and addressing their specific needs in an assertive and empathetic manner are all necessary. This will allow us to have powerful, fluid, and critical relationships with our children, which will become a source of inspiration and confidence in our professional life.
At MVT, we have expert psychologists who can accompany your team in discovering these resources, which have clear effects on their well-being and work performance.
Written by Luis Gonzalez - Psychologist expert in systemic consulting for organizations
Talking about mental health in remote work isn’t synonymous with mental illness. While it’s clear that a considerable part of the workforce has a mental health diagnosis of some kind—with depression and anxiety being some of the most common disorders—companies deal with dynamics that promote or jeopardize the mental and emotional wellness of their employees on a daily basis.
In the following guide, you’ll find approaches that will allow you to better understand what we’re referring to when we mention mental and emotional wellbeing in remote work, the effects that this has on companies, tips to identify if your team is going through a rough patch in its mental and emotional wellbeing, and some recommendations and solutions that you can use to start to tackle these issues in your company.
Some Notes on the Mental and Emotional Realms
As a starting point, we should abandon the idea of the mind and emotions as entirely individual traits. This is a transgressive approach that breaks with a tradition of understanding stemming from Descartes himself, which has been treated as common knowledge for centuries.
Let’s consider the case of a company in which, when a conflict arises, the team experiences deep fear and anxiety because, in their experience, talking about problems leads to negative consequences.
We find ourselves with a team that prefers not to talk directly about the conflict under the assumption that this is how they should take care of interpersonal relationships, work stability, and the very balance of the organization, achieving a temporary sensation of tranquility at the same time.
However, the underlying causes behind the conflict are still alive and well, ready to re-emerge in a vicious cycle, risking further exacerbation of the team’s discomfort and potential damage to the company at any time.
According to this example, attending to mental and emotional wellness in remote work doesn’t only involve recognizing one’s own internal world and that of our collaborators but also taking special care of the type of relationships and contexts that we’re building in our interactions with others.
What Effects Does Not Paying Attention to the Mental and Emotional Wellness of Our Teams Have on Remote Work?
The COVID-19 pandemic has served as a turning point in our awareness of the importance of mental and emotional wellness in the workplace. Failure to address these issues can have highly problematic consequences for businesses.
When we fail to address these issues, the effects are evident. We begin to detect signs of demotivation and exhaustion, performance suffers, contact with clients diminishes in quality, irritability increases, and relationships within the team deteriorate, all of which have important consequences on the productivity of our businesses.
According to a World Health Organization (WHO) study, depression and anxiety disorders cost the world economy US$ 1 trillion annually in lost productivity.
With this in mind, addressing our teams’ mental and emotional distress is important. According to the WHO, for every dollar invested in employee mental health, there’s a US$ 4 return in improved health and productivity.
Useful Signs That Your Team May Be Experiencing Mental or Emotional Distress
When we work remotely, our co-workers often work alone, at their own schedule. There are generally few possibilities for interaction, which makes it difficult to recognize if they’re going through a rough patch.
On top of that, mental and emotional discomfort—as well as mental illness—have been stigmatized for a long time. This is why many prefer to hide the symptoms. However, there are some signs that are worth keeping an eye out for:
- First, always keep in mind that there are no general signs. What may seem normal for one person could be a sign of mental and emotional distress for another.
- You should pay attention to any drastic changes in a person’s behavior, the kinds of things that make them seem like strangers. This isn’t only in their interpersonal relationships and their daily habits or customs but also in their work style and quality.
- Although there are no general rules, always think that feeling discouraged, poor performance, a lack of motivation, irritability, constant complaints, and other such behaviors and attitudes can serve as an alarm.
What Stance Should I Adopt Regarding Mental and Emotional Distress in My Work Team?
- Assume the notion of taking charge, from the Italian therapist Gianfranco Cecchin, as an invitation to overcome the discussion of guilt that has done so much damage and which also immobilizes us.
- In a relational approach to mental and emotional wellness, the responsibility for change is shared. Building wellness is, above all, a team task.
- When we’re in charge of teams, our degree of responsibility increases and the need to activate strategies to build relationships that allow us to experience wellness also falls on us.
- There is a basic systemic principle that indicates that the actions we mobilize in one area of the company can have a powerful positive effect on the whole organization.
Recognizing that the organization’s internal resources can sometimes fall short of meeting the challenges we face is an achievement that will open new paths for solutions.
How Can We at MVT Help You?
At MVT, we believe that there are no pre-fabricated solutions. Instead of adapting your organization’s problems or challenges to fit a certain type of methodology, we understand that both we and our solutions have to adapt to your company’s style and needs.
To do this, we have a network of psychologists who are experts in different fields, such as systemic consulting, crisis care, emotion management, positive and happiness psychology, diversity and inclusion, conflict resolution, organizational climate and culture, parenting, and much more.
At MVT, we begin with rigor, using a multidisciplinary approach to understand the challenges of your organization and accompany you along the path that best suits your needs in terms of the mental and emotional wellness of your team according to our PPI model (promotion, prevention, and intervention).
The death of a coworker is an event that no one wants to face, but it does happen. The people we work with form a fundamental part of our lives. We spend our days with them and build important ties that often become lasting personal bonds.
In the following guide, we’ll share the impact that the loss of a coworker has on the work team, the stages of grief, some recommendations that will allow you to facilitate the development of the mourning experience, and a hopeful perspective about death.
The Aftermath of Losing Someone You Were Close To at Work and the Stages of Grief
The death of a team member is difficult to accept. The impact can be so strong that it directly affects the health of the team, triggering deep sadness, guilt, anger, fear, powerlessness, and/or poor performance. These emotions, when prolonged over a long period, can trigger depression, chronic fatigue, anxiety, and even nervous breakdowns, altered eating habits, sleep disorders, and/or suicide.
To keep these consequences from becoming exacerbated and triggering irreversible consequences, keep in mind that your team has begun to walk an important path, in which they’ll have to go through the following stages of grief:
- Denial: A defense mechanism for facing the pain generated by the loss.
- Confusion: Negative emotions about what wasn’t done, producing constant questions and distorting what’s happening.
- Anger: Feelings of rage about the passing and loss of the loved one.
- Pain and Guilt: Feelings of guilt and suffering about things that were left undone with the person while they were alive.
- Sadness: Deep sadness for the loss suffered. If not dealt with, this could turn into depression.
- Acceptance: Recognition that the person is gone and has left a void.
- Reconstruction: Taking actions that allow life to continue.
These stages of grief, which the deceased person’s coworkers must go through, are more challenging when you also have to continue fulfilling a host of work responsibilities. But this doesn’t mean they should be neglected or interrupted. It’s vitally important to prioritize your efforts to provide the team with an appropriate work environment so that this process can continue in the healthiest possible manner.
How Can I Help My Team Cope With the Death of a Team Member?
- Support spaces: It’s essential to support the team through group counseling that promotes the healthy evolution of the grieving experience. Ideally, this space should be facilitated by a professional who’s an expert in grief.
- Group coaching for the emotional reactions to a significant loss: Emotional guidance will allow the team to have a healthy relationship with their emotions and those of their coworkers in the face of loss. This can be done individually or in groups and with the help of an expert in emotional management.
- Expressive art activities for emotional regulation: Sometimes words aren’t enough to express the pain that occurs as a result of the passing of someone close to you. Art therapy is a very effective mechanism for regulating emotions and channeling the experience of suffering by providing well-being.
- Individual or group consulting spaces: The people closest to the coworker who passed away are often the most affected. It’s important to accompany them through this process with individual or group psychological consulting that allows this important experience to be handled in a more personalized manner.
A Hopeful Look at Death
There can be no doubt that the experience of dealing with the death of a colleague offers you a new way of getting to know your work team. If this is done through group processes, in a responsible and committed way, it will definitely represent an opportunity to grow as individuals—and even more so as a team.
From the moment that each team member finds comfort in others to the moment that the sad reality is accepted as a whole and life goes on, trust, synergy, a sense of union, and the strength of teamwork, in particular, will all grow.
Experiencing death is something that inevitably forces us to confront our fears. But at the same time, it provides an opportunity for us to learn about new dimensions and invites us to overcome our “fear of death” and to discover many ways to reconnect with life.
How Can MVT Help You?
At MVT, we have a network of psychologists who are experts in the mourning process as well as other scenarios that may be affecting your work team. We use a multidisciplinary approach with containment techniques as well as emotional regulation and management that will promote your team’s well-being and allow them to move through the mourning experience in a healthy manner.
If your team is dealing with the death of a coworker, our network of psychologists can help you through this journey.