WFH advice for employers

How to to provide the right support to your WFH employees

Almost one-third of all Australians are now working from home, are you providing the right levels of support for your WFH staff?

New analysis from market research company Roy Morgan has revealed that 32 per cent of Australians are now working from home (WFH) in 2020, making up over 4.3 million people. This spike is largely because of the COVID-19 global pandemic and the resulting social distancing and lockdown measures that have been implemented this year.

Industries with the highest percentages of employees now working from home include communication (47 per cent), public administration and defence (51 per cent) and finance and insurance (58 per cent) while, predictably, industries like retail, agriculture and transport have much lower numbers of WFH staff.

WFH models likely to stay well into the future - beyond COVID-19

While the immediate future of the world and its operations is not clear, there will be a world without COVID-19 restrictions in due time.

 

But that does not mean that WFH models adopted during this time will be abandoned, with workers achieving a better work life balance and employers realising the benefits of WFH likely to mean many workers spend at least one day of their working week at home ongoing.

Roy Morgan CEO Michele Levine said that WFH models were already being trialed and adopted prior to COVID-19 and that the pandemic had simply accelerated a trend that was already on the rise.

“Working from Home has long been mooted as a potential solution to avoid commuter gridlock and allow greater workplace flexibility. The experience of the Australian economy during the COVID-19 pandemic suggests we will see a lot more of it in the years ahead,” she said.

“One of the unexpected benefits of the pandemic is we’ve seen large parts of the economy function well at short notice as millions of Australians – over 4.3 million according to the latest Roy Morgan data – have been forced to ‘work from home’ during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Why should businesses spend large sums of money renting out expensive office space in the city when half of their employees might be happy to work from home and only come into the office once or twice a week or perhaps a few times a month?”

Depression and isolation, the dark side of WFH and how to combat it

There are many benefits for staff who are able to work from home. There is less time spent commuting, flexible hours to accommodate school pick ups and drop offs and getting to work in comfortable, familiar surroundings.

 

But it also means a separation from the work team which can lead to isolation and a range of mental health issues including depression and anxiety.

Not-for-profit mental health facility Black Dog Institute has outlined some common feelings people working from home may experience including:

  • A feeling of isolation and disconnection from people, personally and professionally
  • An inability to be able to switch off from work
  • Issues finding motivation and prioritising workloads
  • Feelings of uncertainty surrounding performance
  • An inability to sleep


To help combat these feelings, the Black Dog Institute has also outlined ways that workers can boost their mental health while working from home including:

  • Creating established routines with clear boundaries between working hours and personal time
  • Setting up a dedicated home office away from living areas
  • While technology is fantastic for communication, always take the time to organise phone and video hookups for a human connection with your bosses and colleagues
  • Digital detoxes, step away from all of your technology by getting outside, reading a book, taking a bath etc
  • Get outside, at least once a day
  • Exercise regularly and eat regular balanced meals
  • Take the time to do the activities you enjoy

How employers can assist their WFH staff using SPR

SPR was designed to help Queensland and Australian businesses manage and mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 so they could keep operating during the pandemic.


It provides a simple health check for workers, contractors and visitors to ensure no one with the physical symptoms of COVID-19 or who has had potential exposure to the virus makes contact with your workforce.


But SPR also includes other layers of protection, including ways to reach out and ensure your workers are safe and well. The built-in mental health check allows you to regularly assess their mood and take action if there is a noticeable decline. And the built-in risk assessment means you monitor the workspace your staff are using and provide advice and support.


SPR is available to all Australian businesses and is completely free (up to 50 licences) to small businesses and not-for-profit organisations (unlimited licences). For more information or to get started click here.