Mental and Emotional Wellness in Remote Teams
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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).