The beginning of The pandemic was a strange and uncertain time. We locked ourselves at home to avoid the new terrible virus. However, everything was not bad. Our morning commute went from hours in traffic to 20 steps to the living room. Increased family time consisting of Zoom calls and professional banana bread bakes. It was difficult, but we adapted to the new normal. However, the pandemic had significant downsides that are still evident.
Anxiety and depression have increased by a staggering 25% worldwide in the first year of Covid, and it feels like the whole world is suffering from PTSD.
We have been forever changed as a society by the loss that so many people have suffered, and while many want things to go back to “normal life”, we must accept that things will never be the same.
Covid has created a new normal of being always on and always available, but this is unsustainable and takes its toll on our already fragile mental and emotional health. But with the right tools and a different mindset, we can make a difference.
Why permanent culture is not sustainable
The pandemic has affected everyone in different ways. Some have lost their jobs, some have lost loved ones, and some are living with “long covid”. Those who have lost loved ones carry the trauma every day, and those who haven’t may feel guilty for getting off “easy.”
Although it is easier to leave the house now, deep down there is still the worry that we can expose ourselves or our loved ones to Covid while going about our daily activities.
Businesses were also affected in different ways. Some of them were forced to close for a long time, which created great financial burdens. Others are closing forever. And other businesses that continued to operate because they could work remotely may feel “lucky” that they weren’t hit as hard as others.
Three6five was one such company. Strict lockdowns and office hygiene and safety restrictions have had little to no impact on our business because we were ready to set up remote work. Our teams were able to work effectively from home, and many threw themselves into their work, did their best, worked countless hours, and sacrificed family and personal time to express gratitude for their “luck.”
We never set out to create a culture of permanent work. It was not in any way directed from above or foreseen. This was because we wanted to prove that we were working remotely and never set or enforced boundaries from the start.
When the Covid downturn hit in late 2021, the true consequences of being always on and always available became apparent: our team was tired. They were burned out from the long period of intense overwork that had become routine for many of them. But this is unbearable – neither for our people nor for our business.
Navigating this “new normal” has proven to be a difficult task. But not only our business is experiencing difficulties. Many companies are seeing how this new way of working has affected their operations and the mental health of their employees. In the workplace, new trends such as the “big retirement” and the “quiet exit” are emerging as more people realize that their health, happiness and sanity are not worth sacrificing for their work.
Conscious formation of a new normality
The idea behind remote and hybrid work was to help people find a good work-life balance. But as it was implemented because of Covid, it led to a global culture of all work and a huge mental toll. One of the ways we are trying to make a difference in our business is by putting mental health at the top of our priority list and recognizing how we can support our employees.
Although our business is still open 24/7, our team is not always on. They’re still committed to our customers’ success, but they’re equally committed to family time, health and wellness, and closing at a reasonable time. If a customer needs us at 2 a.m., the team is ready to help, but they don’t sit and work and wait for a call. They do what they need to do for their mental health.
We’re also trying to get our team to talk more about mental health, which many people previously thought was a taboo subject. We have provided tools to care for their mental health and offer counseling to those who need or want it. This can make society as a whole healthier, especially if employees teach their families and children how to use these tools.
It’s a conscious effort, but it makes our company friendlier and helps us see each other not just as “employee number X,” but as people with hobbies, families, and geysers that erupt.
The work on this mindset shift isn’t complete yet, but we’re already seeing a difference in the happiness and health of our team. They are more engaged in what brings them joy. In turn, this makes them more productive and motivated. It’s nothing new that happy employees are more productive. This improves product quality, as well as productivity and company results. Research has shown this, but we do this not just for our team’s happiness, but for their well-being.
The bottom line is for a healthy society
For us, this is a way to expand our sense of social responsibility. Yes, Covid has created this new normal, but businesses can influence how employees cope with change and help them focus on their mental health. Understanding the impact of the pandemic on employees allows us to take steps to create a supportive work environment that benefits the entire population.
As we enter the next — and hopefully last — phase of the pandemic, we need to keep talking about mental health. Businesses must embrace hybrid working and trust their employees to manage their time and results as they recognize that things will never go back to normal.
Finally, since everyone has some level of PTSD, we should follow the advice of mental health professionals on how to heal: be patient with yourself and others, talk about it, spend time with loved ones, exercise, rest, meditate, and get professional help when you need it.
To learn more about three6five, visit www.three6five.com.
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