In 2021, Psychology Week explores the roles psychology plays in a workplace environment. COVID-19 has played a massive role in mental, physical and social wellbeing, impacting business operations.
Office-based workplaces in particular, have more employees working from home, solely reliant on technology to communicate with colleagues and customers. In response to these changes, there are many ways that psychological support and interventions can play their part.
Psychological Week introduces us to tools and practices that can be used to create a positive and mentally healthy workplace, where the wellbeing of the employer and employees are of sole importance.
These tools and practices are not only exclusive for office-based work but can be applied to different industries and workplaces, by providing insight into how employees and employers feel about work, and how events such as COVID-19 or any other reasoning, impacts their mental health.
Can you find out more by clicking on this link.
Work-life balance in the new normal:
This theme for Psychology week is exploring the role psychology plays in the workplace. Work-life balance came into usage in the 1970s and 1980s when stressed out professionals strove to achieve a balance between their career, family and other areas of their life.
The term “work-life balance” appears to separate the two in that there appears to be a time for work and a separate time for life experiences; and that these would need to be in balance. It is appropriate then to wonder if in recent years, the COVID-19 Pandemic would have had an effect on this balance. If “the New Normal” in which many services are provided by telehealth or electronically would have an effect on a person’s perceived level of wellbeing.
Previous research has indicated that telecommuting from home can detrimentally affect the level of work engagement experienced and increase perceived work-related fatigue (Palumbo, 2020). Employees who worked full-time from home were found to have an increased frequency of work to life and life to work conflicts. On the other hand, when employees were engaged on the worksite the effects of face-to-face engagement appeared to mediate or decrease the level of work-related fatigue experienced (Palumbo 2020).
As a clinician myself I have often heard of strategies to separate the workplace from other aspects of a professional’s life. I have heard about the long car drive home where a person can declutter their mind; the removal of the work uniform signifying an end to the workday; the strict boundaries with a professional’s time put in place – this time is for work and this time is for my family for example.
How difficult then would it be if the home was the workplace? Would it be helpful to wear a uniform or corporate wear that could be removed at the end of the day? When conflicts present between family and work engagement does the professional stop their workday to assist with household responsibilities?
These questions transition well into the gendered issues that appear to be present in the New Normal, with school attendance being disrupted across the country parents have been under greater pressure to support their child’s education and wellbeing. Recent studies have shown that it is often mothers more so than fathers that are doing less paid work hours and increasing their household responsibilities (Andrew et al. 2020).
I don’t have an answer to resolving the effects of telecommuting/working from home. However, they do say that awareness is 90% of change; so perhaps being aware and being frank about the difficulties that present themselves when working from home can help us find a compromise between working from an “office” and working from “home”. Perhaps this Pandemic is an opportunity to reevaluate our priorities and discover what it means to have optimal work-life balance.
For myself typing this at home on a Saturday morning I feel like I have hopefully done the work part to a good standard. However, it is important to let that go and to go find some life experiences.
Cheers to that,
About Psychology Week
Psychology Week is an annual awareness event organised by the Australian Psychological Society (APS), the peak body for psychologists in Australia representing over 27,000 members.
Australians benefit from psychological knowledge every day, in almost every setting – from classrooms, sports-fields or courtrooms to private clinics and large hospitals.
Every year, Psychology Week shows Australians how psychology can help them to lead healthier, happier and more meaningful lives.
We invite you to take part in Psychology Week 2021 as this year’s theme illustrates ‘Working Minds.’ Make sure you save the dates : 29 November - 5 December 2021.