Press release:

CMI #BetterManagers Briefing: Managing Mental Health While Working From Home

Friday 20 March 2020

The CEOs of the Chartered Management Institute and Mental Health First Aid England discuss how to look after your own and your team’s wellbeing when working from home.

Ann Francke OBE, CEO of the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) was joined on Friday 27th March by Simon Blake, CEO of Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England for a discussion on how employers and employees can manage workplace wellbeing when working from home.

Simon Blake on managing mental health in uncertain times:

“The most important thing is: do not bottle anything up. As long as we’re talking then we’re processing what’s happening, we’re allowing ourselves to understand that we may be feeling scared, but we’re feeling scared together. It may sound really simple, but that’s the most important thing: taking the time to talk [and] to listen - to ourselves and others.”

“Enable people to manage the best they can in the circumstances, and keep as positive as they can. The key thing for managers is acknowledging and giving people the time to process so that they are able to verbalise things they might not otherwise.”

One approach that Simon shared to encourage opening up is asking: “How are you, and what are you doing to look after yourself?” Changes in someone’s approach to looking after themselves can be an indication that a manager may need to check in further; an employee could be making these changes consciously, or they may need some help with managing their wellbeing.

Ann and Simon also discussed how managers can look after themselves and adapt to working in uncertain situations. They both emphasised the need for empathy, connection, and a revised look at what productivity means in our current circumstances.

Ann Francke on adapting output and productivity:

“Managers and teams need to be cognizant that not everybody is going to be as productive as perhaps we would be in normal times. Having that awareness and being quite forgiving about human nature, and not expecting everybody to have everything buttoned up [is helpful.] That includes yourself: cutting yourself some slack, as well as your teams. You’re not going to get it perfect, that’s okay. We’re managing through this together.”

Simon Blake’s advice for employers leading and managing in uncertain times:

“Employers need to be really proactive in communicating that they understand that these are extraordinary times; that this is not a ‘business as usual’ period; and that they’ll do everything they can to ensure that the business and the organisation continues to do what it can in the best way that it can but also to take absolute care of its employees and other stakeholders and partners.”

During their discussion, the following top tips emerged for managing your own and your team’s mental health:

  • Create a routine - be it a work day routine or just a morning routine, structure can be helpful to make sure that you can both achieve your professional objectives, and ‘switch off’ at the end of your working day.
  • Movement - if you’re in a team meeting over the phone, consider walking around your home or a garden if you have access to one. This can replace regular movement around your conventional workplace and avoid hours of sitting in one position.
  • Stay connected - many of us are used to relying on emails, but variety and (virtual) human contact is key when working from home. Pick up the phone or use video conferencing software to stay connected with your colleagues, and allocate time at the beginning of meetings to check in on how everyone is doing.
  • Make time for fun - to connect employees working remotely, it can be helpful for managers to give their teams dedicated ‘free time’ for socialising, and encourage them to take the lead on creating activities. For example: the CMI has begun virtual ‘Bring Your Pet To Work’ days: staff members share photos of their pets ‘working from home’ and the pet voted ‘Most Productive’ each week is sent a prize; MHFA England has team Spotify playlists and a staff ‘radio station’.

- Ends -

Media contact:

John Kaponi Head of Media Relations, CMI

Note to Editors:

CMI #BetterManagers Briefing

To help the business community during the Covid-19 pandemic, the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) is producing the #BetterManagers Briefing: a weekly webinar sharing knowledge of the best practices that will help managers and leaders address the unique challenges of our current situation.

Led by CMI’s CEO, Ann Francke OBE, with guests from CMI and the wider world of business, each episode will address a different topic relating to management and leadership in times of uncertainty, with the opportunity for viewers to ask questions.

The Chartered Management Institute 

The Chartered Management Institute is the chartered professional body for management and leadership, counting more than 132,000 managers and leaders in its membership community. There are 7,697 Chartered Managers.

Backed by a unique Royal Charter, CMI is the only organisation able to award Chartered Manager status - the ultimate management accolade, which is proven to boost individuals’ career prospects, management capability and impact in the workplace.