Mobile workers enjoy certain perks that domestic and office workers don’t, such as more flexible working hours and the freedom to choose their work environment. However, these advantages don't come without their own risks, given today's increasingly busy and demanding lifestyles.
Employers must catch up to the fact that poor mental health as a result of this is detrimental to a company’s profitability and reputation, not to mention the very real risk present for their employees' wellbeing.
Knowing what factors can make mobile workers prone to a psychological breakdown can help managers improve their mobile team’s mental health and productivity.
Lack of social interaction
Corporate Adviser’s report on the main issues faced by mobile professionals shows that 19% suffer from loneliness — a number that increases to 24% for those who live alone or are single.
Having a weak support network and not spending enough time with family are also common complaints. Good mobile team managers know the value of constant communication and will talk to workers on a daily basis even just to check-in on them.
One of the many emerging ways this is being done is through Aon Well One, an app specifically designed to track and communicate with workers about mental health and allowing them to connect with their peers.
Not taking enough breaks
Working from home or away from a traditional office can warp your perception of rest, as technology continues to promote an “always-on culture”.
In fact, a Verizon Connect study found that a quarter of UK drivers are breaching guidelines on rest and fatigue, working more than the recommended hours. This poses a big wellness problem, as workers who do not take enough breaks are more prone to burnout and stress.
Having specific rules in place is not enough if employers want to tackle this issue seriously. Discussing their workload every day with employees can help in encouraging them to take breaks, as they would then feel they can afford to rest because there is more structure. Meanwhile, automatic in-cab alerts or apps like Time Out and Break Timer can help as well.
Reliance on smartphones
It’s not uncommon for mobile workers to be overly dependent on technology, considering that this is how they get most of their work done. This can come with negative effects on their relationship with their smartphone, with research by B2M Solutions revealing that 40% of mobile workers experience stress or anxiety because of issues with their device.
Mobile workers are afraid of being away from their smartphones and are terrified of possible malfunctions with hardware or software. In the same study, 21% of mobile workers felt that their employers would ignore their concerns regarding device functionality.
Employers can respond to this problem by providing reliable devices to reduce their workers' anxieties. Managers can also encourage putting down the devices during lunch breaks or at night-time.
Not enough exercise
Mobile workers are getting little to no exercise because of their demanding hours. The ramifications of this lack of physical activity are listed in ‘The Psychological Impacts on the Lack of Exercise’, where the author emphasises the increased risk of depression and stress. In order to promote a healthy lifestyle, managers can promote exercise and mental health by creating social groups online, and companies can even go so far as to subsidise gym memberships or incentivise regular physical activities.
Information Week reports that among mobile workers, 62% are getting less than 7 hours of sleep a night, with 23% sleeping 6 or less. More alarmingly, 52% admitted that the nature of their mobile work has affected their hours and quality of sleep.
Despite the culture of trusting mobile workers to finish their daily tasks, employers should make themselves aware of how much work their mobile teams are actually doing to address the issue.
Overworking individuals is a sure recipe for burnout and mental issues down the line, and can lead to unmotivated and stressed out teams.
Overall, constant and open communication should be encouraged and practiced between mobile teams and managers to ensure that psychological needs are being met and taken care of.
Having good working conditions and a culture that promotes mental health will lead to satisfied and productive workers and the betterment of the entire company.
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