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Taking care of your mental health while working from home

Last updated on 9 March 2022
For most workers in the Netherlands, working from home is taking a lot of getting used to. This can lead to not only physical health issues but also to psychological issues.

You can develop complaints associated with working at a computer, such as neck and shoulder problems, but also psychological issues that can arise when the boundaries between private and professional life become blurred. This makes it harder for people to take psychological distance from their work, and undermines the home situation’s key function as a haven for rest and recovery. Loneliness due to lack of personal contact can have an adverse effect on motivation and productivity.

Basic principles 

TNO has drawn up a number of basic principles to enable people to work from home as effectively as possible (see link and background info). Each basic principle is accompanied by tips on how to go about it.

These basic principles are:

  • draw up a daily schedule 
  • make sure your day includes enough variety and scope for movement 
  • plan moments of relaxation 
  • stay in touch with colleagues, albeit remotely

It is also important to remain alert to signs of reduced wellbeing. Both managers and colleagues have a part to play in looking out for these signs. Discussing issues in good time can help prevent them from spiralling into serious problems. And, of course, both employees and managers can turn to a range of experts for help or advice.

The list below contains practical questions that can be key to ensuring the mental wellbeing of employees and preventing possible problems.

Examples at individual/employee level:

  • How can I do my job, look after my family and home-school my children all at the same time? 
  • How can I maintain formal and informal contact with colleagues? 
  • How can I stay fit now that I am no longer able to take part in team sports? 
  • How do I give my day a sense of purpose? 
  • How do I stay on track with professional qualifications? 
  • How can I access the right information easily and stay up to date? 
  • How do I set up my work/home desk? What’s the best place in my house to work from? 
  • How can I reduce the risk of stress from unclear agreements/extra demands on my work schedule? 
  • How can I organize things to ensure sufficient flexibility in my work (work-life balance)? 
  • How should I deal with PhD candidates/staff falling behind with their work and  the resulting problems (e.g. workload, worries)?

Examples for management and contact with and between colleagues:

  • How can I approach consultation and staying in touch with colleagues? 
  • How do I make sure everyone is working / keeps working? 
  • How do I give my staff sufficient support and attention? 
  • How can I support employees experiencing (or at risk of) problems due to stress? 
  • How can I give proper guidance to new employees (onboarding, contact with colleagues, etc.)? 
  • How can I provide staff with alternative duties when their own work is not enough to keep them busy? 
  • How can I offer my staff sufficient flexibility in working hours (work-life balance)? 
  • How can we maintain a positive and productive working atmosphere despite the long-term lack of face-to-face interaction?

Background information and tips