The 10th of October recently marked World Mental Health Day. For me, it was a reminder to think about mental health in general, how we need to look after it, much like our own bodies, and how important it is to talk about things and get help if you are struggling.
Whilst the general direction of the pandemic is looking more positive, the increased anxiety, stress and isolation that it has brought has had a longer lasting impact on people’s mental health – one in four adults report that their mental health is markedly worse than pre-pandemic .
About the author
Lars Lauridsen is the Senior Global Product Manager at Logitech.
For those working, how we engage with our fellow employees and the quality of our working set up, whether in the office or at home, can have a big impact on our job satisfaction and with it our mental health. For some, colleagues may be the only people they interact with in a day. This is where having the correct technology is pivotal for businesses, in helping to facilitate conversations with colleagues and improve a sense of inclusion, alongside helping to provide tools that help improve body posture, boosting comfort, and with it, mental wellbeing.
Video as a force against loneliness
There are many benefits to working from home. Few of us would say they miss the commute, and while home-schooling has been very challenging, it’s also given parents more time with their children. But for those working at home alone, or working remotely for long stints without coming into the office, it can start to feel isolating and lonely.
Earlier this year the Office for National Statistics released a map charting the UK’s skyrocketing levels of loneliness. Loneliness is known to increase the risk of depression and anxiety, exacerbating stress and lowering self-esteem. . This has spurred many to consider adopting hybrid models where employees can enjoy a mix of remote and office working, but those working from home shouldn’t feel excluded from colleagues who are at the office. When it comes to maintaining a solid social connection remotely, email and instant messaging aren’t enough. Humans are social creatures by nature, and we’re programmed to react to facial expressions and body language.
Through state-of-the-art video conferencing facilities, teams are able to come together virtually with little disruption. Webcams with high-quality microphones and optics that are easy to use acts as a great tool for facilitating body language communication and conversation, helping to tackle any feelings of loneliness. Simply making eye contact and having what feels like a face-to-face interaction can have a great impact on your sense of inclusion and help in building better, closer connections, no matter the location you work from. In turn, this helps to set the foundations of a workforce who collaborate better in the long run.
Wellbeing for the whole body
If we understand wellbeing as ‘feeling good and functioning well’ that means also reflecting on our physical health. Employees cannot be expected to be at their most productive when they are faced with aches and pains as a result of their work set up. Yet the pandemic has clearly taken as much of a toll on our bodies as it has on our minds. In fact, the two are intertwined. Numerous studies support the idea that preventing musculoskeletal issues, and the associated pain and discomfort has a direct impact on mental health.
Businesses should provide mice and keyboards that have ergonomic influences in their design, as they go a long way to mitigating these issues. Consider this: the average office worker moves their mouse an average of 100 feet per working day. That’s six miles every year, going up to 17 miles for a heavy user, with annual average keystrokes ranging between 2-3 million. We use our mouse and keyboard a lot, and if they’re bad fitting, they’ll cause a lot of strain over time.
For businesses this means investing for the future and supporting employees’ wellbeing through peripherals designed to complement the natural body formation. For mice, they should consider something that molds to the hand, supporting the thumb and wrist. There are also options for keyboards to be split, which allow arms and wrists to rest naturally and reduce stress on neck and shoulder muscles too. A more natural posture leads to a quantifiable reduction in muscle activity – meaning employees can work just as productively while putting less stress on their bodies.
A holistic view of mental health and workplace wellbeing
World Mental Health Day may have been and gone, but mental health is an important issue that needs to be supported all year long, like our physical health. To do so, technology for hybrid working must take a holistic, human-centered and science-driven approach. This requires a shift in what constitutes a workspace, and ensuring that wherever people work is fit for purpose and supportive of wellbeing.