Last updated: 26 Mar, 2020

For organisations to use to build and protect staff wellbeing during coronavirus.

For any enquiries of a medical nature refer to dhhs.vic.gov.au/coronavirus

If you think you have Coronavirus call the dedicated 24 hrs hotline on 1800 675 398 leave 000 for emergencies only

Mentally Healthy Workplace Alliance information for COVID-19 outbreak View more

A new world of work – and a time to stay creatively connected

 

The COVID-19 pandemic is impacting the way we live, including the way we work. The Health Workplace Alliance is mindful of the impact this pandemic may have on you, your employees and your members, both now and into the future. In an unprecedented time for Australian workers and businesses, they have combined the expertise of their member bodies to provide a list of resources that can support you and your workplace during this challenging time. They will continue to update this list and share resources we find helpful. 

While COVID-19 has presented workplaces with new and unknown challenges, it is also an opportunity for learning and leadership. We encourage you to show leadership in situations where a staff member may be exposed to or diagnosed with COVID-19, to ensure they feel supported.

 

Workplace mental health information during the COVID-19 outbreak

Accurate and current health information

  • The Australian Government Coronavirus Health Information website is updated hourly and provides up-to-date advice, recommendations and announcements. 

  • The Coronavirus National Helpline 1800 020 080 is available 24/7 for those with concerns or seeking information on COVID-19. 

Managing our mental health and wellbeing

It is normal for people to feel overwhelmed or stressed during this time. Some people may require additional and dedicated support, for example, from an Employee Assistance Program or health professional. 

  • Head to Health is the Australian Government general mental health website which now has a dedicated COVID-19 mental health support page. 

  • The Australian Psychological Society has tips and resources on coping with corona virus anxiety. 

  • Superfriend provides tips to help you maintain mental wellbeing, and offers a COVID-19 support kit. 

  • Beyond Blue has helpful tips and information on how to look after your mental health during the coronavirus outbreak. Life In Mindand the National Mental Health Commission has consolidated mental health resources and information on a dedicated webpage.   

  • SANE has livedexperience forums with features on COVID-19. 

  • Black Dog Institute also provides comprehensive advice on managing anxiety and wellbeing and access to online support. 

  • MindSpot, a government-funded online service, has information on maintaining mental and physical wellbeing during the pandemic. 

  • World Health Organisation has developed Social Stigma Guidelines for safe reporting on COVID-19, which may be helpful in workplace communications. 

Workplace-specific information

  • Safe Work Australia has up-to-date advice on employer responsibilities in managing workplace risks. 

  • The Fair Work Ombudsman informs you of rights and entitlements under Australian workplace laws. 

  • The ACTU offers a suite of advice and resources for workers and employers. 

  • The national Employee Assistance Professional Association of Australia provides links to providers; several offer open access to their web-based corona virus workplace resources hubs. 

  • Mental Health First Aiders or other workplace mental health support people may be another source of help. 

  • The International Labor Organisation brings together information and resources on the changing world of work

How business can get help and help themselves and others

For many businesses survival is the first step in you and your employees’ mental wellbeing. 

  • The Australian Government is supporting Australian businesses to manage cash flow and retain employees.  

  • This is a time for cooperation. The Business Council of Australia lists what its members are doing to assist smaller businesses, the self-employed and the community. 

  • The Australian Industry Group provides advice on how to mitigate the effects of the virus on your supply chain. 

  • COSBOA provides detailed information about financial assistance for sole operators and small businesses.

Colleagues, managers, clients and workers can support each other by working together to find solutions; acknowledging feelings of distress; and problem-solving around how to mitigate difficulties. 

The Mentally Healthy Workplace Alliance will continue to update and share relevant and useful resources from Australia and around the world.   

For more updates contact the Mentally Healthy Workplace Alliance to receive updates. 

Connection and support through coronavirus outbreak View more

Beyond Blue recommendations for coping with COVID-19

Beyond Blue has developed a suite of online resources about coping with COVID-19 in response to rising community concern about the virus.

Contacts about COVID-19 to the Beyond Blue Support Service are increasing and Beyond Blue’s online discussion forum about the virus is attracting unprecedented interest.

The ‘Coping during the coronavirus outbreak’ topic on the discussion forum is receiving unprecedented interest with an average of 2000 views each day.

So far, there have been more than 21,000 views of the coronavirus forum discussion. The forums provide a safe place for people to connect and support each other by sharing stories of hope, resilience and recovery.

The Beyond Blue Support Service, which is funded entirely by donations, is attracting an increasing number of calls and emails about COVID-19. One in four contacts is explicitly related to COVID-19.

Beyond Blue has shared this information in response to a high volume of inquiries about how COVID-19 has impacted the Beyond Blue Support Service.

Beyond Blue is encouraging a calm, practical approach to managing the emotional impact of the virus. The new ‘Looking after your mental health during the coronavirus outbreak’ web page includes tips about coping with self-isolation, how to talk to children about the outbreak, advice for health care workers, and information about support-seeking.

Beyond Blue Chair The Hon Julia Gillard AC said it was normal to feel worried in these circumstances and encouraged people to seek support if they needed it.

“These are uncertain times and the challenges ahead will test us as a nation, but we cannot let fear and panic divide us,” Ms Gillard said.

“By coming together, by following official advice and by showing compassion towards those around us, we will get through this.

“In the same way that we’re taking careful steps to manage our physical health, we can actively look after our mental health and Beyond Blue is developing resources to support people to do that.”

Beyond Blue CEO Georgie Harman said staying connected with family and friends would be vital in maintaining good mental health as the coronavirus outbreak continues to impact our daily lives.

“We expect that there will be more demand for mental health support as the health, social and economic consequences of COVID-19 play out and we would encourage everyone to reach out early,” Ms Harman said.

“Remember, you’re not alone and support is available. The Beyond Blue Support Service is available around the clock, by phone or online, and our online forums are moderated by people who understand and care.”

There are simple steps you can take to look after your mental health, even in times of physical distancing or if you are self-isolating, including:

• Staying connected with family and friends. If you can’t do it face-to-face, maintain contact through email, social media, video conferencing or phone calls.

• Keep regular sleep routines and eat healthy foods.

• Try to maintain physical activity – even just going for a walk can help

• Stick to the facts. Misinformation can fuel feelings of anxiety so it’s important to seek information from credible sources such as government and health department web sites.

• Limit your exposure to social media and news if you find it upsetting.

• If you are working from home, maintain a healthy balance by allocating specific work hours, taking regular breaks and, if possible, establishing a dedicated work space.

Mental health professionals are available on the Beyond Blue Support Service via phone 24/7 on 1300 22 4636 or via www.beyondblue.org.au/get-support for online chat (3PM – 12AM AEST or email responses within 24 hours).

 

Outer East Primary Care Partnership (OEPEC) at home tips and ideas View more

Click here to access tips and ideas for looking after your health and wellbeing.

Click here to access tips and ideas for connecting with loved ones.

Working Remotely: How to we make it easier to stay connected, productive and engaged when working remotely? View more

In response to COVID19 and social distancing recommendations, many businesses and organisations are providing the option for employees to work remotely. 

Some unique considerations when shifting to remote work are: 

  1. Communication - Remote work makes it harder to read body language, hear what people are saying, ask follow-up questions in the hallway, or quickly ask a coworker for clarification at their desk.

  2. Reduced Social interaction - Casual and unplanned face-to-face interactions, like kitchen conversations or saying hello while passing a colleague’s desk, aren’t possible when you’re not co-located. It's not uncommon for people to struggle with the lack of social opportunities, like having coffee or lunch with coworkers, especially for those who don’t have calendars full of meetings. 

  3. Unpredictable schedules - In this upcoming period peoples’ availabilities and carer responsibilities are likely to shift on a daily basis and unpredictable. 

Below are some tips and suggestions for how to can make it easier for our staff to stay connected, productive and engaged when working remotely. 

A consistent practice across the organisation will be key in the upcoming period so make sure you are regularly communicating with your staff.

1. STAYING CONNECTED 

Key communications and email updates needs to be clear. 

Ensure staff have access to the relevant systems and files so they can continue to work remotely. This transition may take time and different staff members will need different levels of support.

 

TOOLS FOR CONDUCTING REMOTE MEETINGS

There are many different online communication tool for working remotely Zoom, WhatsApp, Slack and Skype to name a few.

To make it easier select one option and provide the necessary steps and information so staff can install and use these platforms.

Meeting etiquette reminder

Moving to virtual meetings will require a few adjustments to ensure they continue to be productive and effective. But they shouldn’t be too different in structure. 

And below are some extra tips for hosting a great virtual meeting:

  • Video conferencing should be your default meeting platform – so everyone can see each other and limit the temptation for multi-tasking. That means ensuring you have a webcam and it’s switched on.

  • Have an agreed Plan B if your preferred tech platform doesn’t work for everyone.

  • Use headphones or hands-free ear-piece plugged into your device for best audio (if available).

  • Co-create about six “rules for engagement” (meeting norms) – eg. ensuring your tech is working before the meeting, use mute when not speaking, find a quiet space to dial in, don’t multi-task 

  • Have roles for team members that include a chair/facilitator; time keeper; note taker and someone who calls out any breach of the rules of engagement.

  • Spend the first 5-10mins doing a virtual ‘icebreaker’ - even though you know each other it’s important to stay ‘connected’ remotely – eg. share a photo of your workspace/shoes/outside; or in 5 words or less ask what did you have for dinner last night, or what did you do on the weekend.

  • Ensure a summary of meeting notes and actions are circulated promptly after the meeting

 

2. MAINTAINING PRODUCTIVITY

With some consistent effort, you can overcome the challenges of remote work and create a healthy, happy, productive environment for you and your team. Here are some top tips:

 

Before you leave the office to work remotely…

When you’re working from home…

  1. Ensure you have the right devices & technology set up at home (see points above) including WiFi

     

  2. Have a quick lesson (if you need) on using your chosen platform.

     

  3. Agree an initial workplan with your manager, which should include tasks you’ll work on, outcomes and timeframes for completion. Use this work plan as the check-in tool in 1:1s with your Manager

  4. Upload any documents you’ll need to SharePoint or similar to ensure you (& your team if collaborating) can access these from any device.

     

  5. Redirect your office phone to your Mobile

     

  6. As a team, discuss and establish these agreements to manage expectations:
    • How frequently you want to check in as a team (e.g continue as is, 10 min daily ‘huddles’)
    • what normal working hours will you do;
    • how long will it take to get back to each other (response time expectation);
    • how will you notify team members of unavailability;
    • how you will keep track of progress- timelines/ deliverables/ outputs
  • Keep your Calendar regularly updated to show your availability and use to put structure around your work day. For example, use different coloured tabs to show available hours , tasks you’re working on, breaks and times to virtually connect with others.

     

  • Create a dedicated workspace at home – whether that be a desk in a spare room or the kitchen table, mark it out and set it up with all you need.

     

  • Make sure your device chargers are handy, especially when using mobile phone for conference calls – video & audio drains the battery quickly!

     

  • Turn off or remove distractions – e.g. shut down Outlook and pop your iPhone on silent for blocks of time to focus on tasks.

     

  • Start each morning with your normal routine - a good breakfast and get dressed (yes, out of your PJs and trackies). There’s something about preparing yourself mentally for a ‘day in the office’ and you’ll be ready for any video conference.

     

  • Take breaks and move. It’s quite unlikely you’ll have a standing desk at home so be mindful of not sitting for too long. And try to eat well, sleep well & stay hydrated.

     

  • At the end of the day, shut down your computer, and step away to ensure separation between work and home life.

3. MAINTAINING CULTURE & WELLBEING

It is important to focus on maintaining positive work culture and wellbeing for staff. To keep staff connected you may use different measures than what you use for your meetings.

Some ways you can continue to do this remotely:

  • Communication is key. Try making a quick call rather than sending an email and/or jumping into a 5-minute team ‘huddle’ each morning.Just be mindful of colleagues’ work rhythms (check their Calendar for availability) and etiquette involved with each communication style.
  • Adopt a buddy system to stay regularly connected with workmates or organise virtual coffee dates or check in where staff can talk about things outside of work. These ideas are particularly important if your job doesn’t involve a lot of meetings and working from home can be more isolating than for others.
  • Limit your exposure to g news coverage. Stick to reputable outlets like The Conversation for news and DHHS for updates.

Ensure your staff know who to call when they are having difficulties and remind them to keep communications open and regular during this difficult time.

 

Slowing the spread of Coronavirus - information from the Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS) View more

Download these posters from DHHS with tips on how to help stop the spread of Coronavirus.

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Health Promotion Coronavirus (COVID-19) ...

Coronavirus information for health promotion organisations and practitioners.

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