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Remote Work and mental disorder

Remote Work and mental disorder

The rapidly growing and unprecedented development of remote work (including home office) has challenged the adaptability of companies and employees. During the pandemic restrictions, employers and people with disabilities have shown incredible adaptability.

 

New barriers to career development can also be caused by maladjustment and/or isolation, which requires increased vigilance of employers and colleagues. Close attention is also needed to the potential impact of home office on the diversity of forms of disability and the needs of each individual. Below are some examples of forms of limited working capacity for information: hearing impairment, visual impairment, motor disability, cognitive difficulty, mental disability, chronic illness, neurodevelopmental disability, cognitive difficulty and mental disorders. We will go into more detail on the last point in the following section. 

 

Definition

Mental disorders refer to illnesses and disorders of very differentiated origin that can lead to difficulties in a person's life, suffering or behavioural disorders. They can be permanent or episodic, mild or severe. This includes very different realities: Depression, addiction, disorders related to the use of drugs or alcohol, anxiety, phobias, eating disorders, schizophrenic disorders, personality disorders, bipolar disorders or obsessive-compulsive disorders (OCD). Mental disability has been recognised in France since the law of 11 February 2005 on equality of rights and opportunities, participation and citizenship for people with disabilities. It occurs throughout life, sometimes as early as adolescence. Mental disorders do not usually affect intellectual abilities. However, they can be associated with cognitive impairment (including problems with concentration and memory), understanding the feelings of others and other symptoms such as isolation, difficulty communicating or loss of energy. A person has the possibility to live and work in good conditions when the disorder(s) are stabilised. 

 

Opportunities and advantages of home office

Improvement of concentration, reduction of fatigue and stress 

  • Remote work can allow activities to be adjusted to an appropriate pace (more time to think about certain tasks in peace) 
  • The environment can be safer with home office than with face-to-face work: fewer regulatory and formal restrictions, possibility to turn off the camera during video conferences ...
  • Solving travel problems in case of treatments that contraindicate the use of a car

 

Maintaining the workplace by improving health and well-being

  • Home office with flexible days can meet the need to avoid sick leave and absenteeism (choice of home office days instead of predetermined days, coordination of work and care time)

 

Needs and suggested solutions to facilitate home office. 

  • Home office should be tested first to find out and discuss  the possibilities and the conditions for a successful home office with the person.
  • Regular and varied contact modalities should be offered to avoid isolation and to meet care needs: 
    • Exchange with colleagues, managers, occupational health services, HR management (or multidisciplinary teams), disability officer.
    • Promote informal sharing times, which are particularly helpful in preventing loneliness when working from home.
    • Recognise weak signals (fatigue, irritability, lack of concentration, absenteeism, etc.) thanks to this exchange
    • If necessary: Suggest close internal or external support of the "job coaching" type. 

 

Pay attention to time-outs and the observance of breaks.

  • Meeting times must be respected and breaks must be scheduled, especially to help people maintain their concentration and relieve some of the mental strain. 

 

Mobilise the psychological support of a specialised person 

  • internally: via the human resources department, the disability officer, the disability officer or occupational health services;
  • externally: the system of accompanied specialist employment, the special support services (PAS) for psychological disabilities, psychological support via the insurance/health fund, etc. 

 

Safe use of digital tools

  • Provide all teams an awareness of the dangers of the digital world (addiction, malicious websites or messages...)

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