Workplace mental health & wellbeing isn’t exactly a new topic – it’s been on trend for quite some time. Offices across the globe have begun to embrace workplace wellbeing with initiatives such as lunchtime running or yoga clubs, to wellbeing rooms in the office. But what can 2020 teach us about workplace wellbeing?

2020 was certainly the year of ‘WFH’. Your colleagues found themselves in March scrambling for space in the house for a laptop and workspace. And whilst they kept your business afloat despite Covid-19 and Lockdown, many have found their mental health impacted.

recent study on mental health in Ireland post-pandemic has found ‘four waves’ of the impact of the virus, including huge increases in poor mental health amongst the Irish population. Broken routines, isolation from family and friends and worries over personal and family health are just three elements that has caused this rise in poor wellbeing.

Let’s explore what your business can learn from this impact on wellbeing during the pandemic, and how you can encourage positive mental wellbeing in 2021, whether in the office or at home.

2020: What Can Be Learnt?

 As we approach 2021, covid-19 has not disappeared. Whilst vaccines begin to be approved, the fight isn’t over and neither will the impact of the virus on your colleagues disappear.

 Here’s what can be learnt from workplace wellbeing trends in 2020:

1.    Zoom Calls Can’t Beat A Handshake

Video calls have become the staple trend of workplace practice in 2020. After all, how would we have got through this year had it not been for the ability to remote work?

However, it is clear that zoom calls can’t beat a handshake and in-person meeting; the loss of tone, expressions and energy from a room can be detrimental to workplace productivity.

As we move into 2021, we will hopefully move further back to in-person meetings over refreshments – just remember that the Zoom call should not replace those meetings in the future!

2. Remote Working Isn’t For Everyone

In 2020, some colleagues will have indulged in working from home – away from distractions in the office, with their own timetable and control over their working day.

However, others will have struggled with remote working; juggling children, caring responsibilities or a poorly-timed delivery isn’t easy. Pair this with the loneliness for some staff, remote working isn’t always a great combination.

Whilst you may make working from home a staple benefit, remember that it isn’t for everyone and that office activities and social events are still key.

3. Remember To Make Up For 2020

Covid-19 isn’t going to disappear overnight, vaccine or no vaccine. But that doesn’t mean that you should forget the social events that your colleagues will have missed because of the pandemic.

In 2021, make sure that you put workplace wellbeing at the forefront of your operations when possible – organise that Christmas Do in April, have those charity coffee mornings when possible, reinstate those lunchtime running clubs. Whatever it is, make sure your HR team places workplace wellbeing at the top of the priority list in 2021!

By David Bell, Experienced Employment and HR adviser, Contributor on Down to Business, Lunchtime Live (Newstalk) Last Word (Today FM)