Remote working has brought many benefits to people’s lives. Working from home has allowed employees to skip the time-consuming and stressful daily commute. Besides saving commute costs, employees enjoy the advantage of flexibility to their working schedules.
But there are also downsides of remote working. Working all alone without an office environment may create a feeling of isolation. Remote working may sound easy but in reality, it is a challenging task. While working from home, one has to manage their personal and professional life under the same roof. In doing so they continuously struggle to maintain their work-life balance that creates a serious effect on their wellbeing.
No matter from where an employee is working, be it office or home, businesses have their share of responsibilities to ensure the wellbeing of their employees. Healthy and fit employees are not only happier but are also more productive and efficient. This results in lesser sick days and prevents loss of productivity for the business too. Taking care of office employees and remote employees is never the same. It takes different measures to ensure you’re supporting your remote teams in the right way.
How can remote working impact employee wellbeing?
Remote working affects well being mainly in two ways:
- Isolation and unhappiness– When employees work in a separated place from a normal working environment, they start to feel isolated and lonely. Generally people gain their energy from their surroundings. But when the same person is home alone or living with people who cannot relate to their problems at work, it can feel strange. This may make such team members suffer in the long run. The feeling of isolation brings a sense of disengagement in an employee’s work and increases stress, both which negatively affect emotional wellbeing.
- Burnout – When working remotely, employees often work longer hours due to the pressure they feel that they have to contribute more because they are not in the office. Also business owners expect employees to be always available as they are working from home. This lack of work-life balance in remote employees leads to high stress levels, which ultimately turns to cause burnout.
When employees work from the office it is much easier for the manager to be aware of any behaviours that may affect their wellbeing. Remote employees manage a lot of responsibilities while working from home. From managing household duties to looking after elders or kids, all are done by a remote worker. So if your employees are remote then you need to be extra cautious about how they’re feeling and come up with policies that would support their well being.
5 easy steps to support the wellbeing of remote employees:
1. Set boundaries between work and personal time
When employees work from home they no longer have the physical break that is leaving the office. As there is no end of the working day it becomes difficult to separate work and personal time. Remote workers try to be always responsive all the time during the day to prove they are working. This lack of absolute break can lead to many remote workers feeling like they are always at work which impacts their wellbeing.
Managers should encourage remote employees to create a fixed working hours between their work and their personal life. Managers can do this by simply setting a time frame between which employees would start work and finish work. Let your employees know you trust them and you want your employees to work productively in flexible work schedules.
2. Everyday Communication
To manage your remote team, you need to work harder to maintain a well built relationship. Only then will they feel comfortable coming to you for help. As a manager of a distributed team it is not possible for you to call them individually so it’s a good idea to schedule a video everyday or at least every alternate day. Also you can call them individually once a month to know their wellbeing and work feedback. Be it a group call or personal call, within these conversations, really listen and try to stay connected. Try to understand, are they speaking positively about their work? Do they mention workload, pressures or anxieties? Do they look energetic? By really listening and observing them you can understand what’s behind what is being said, this allows you to work together and lighten their stress load.
3. Provide an employee time-tracking programme
Businesses cannot grow if team leaders don’t know what’s going on with remote employees.A huge 52% of American remote workers state that they experience work-related stress. Implementing a time tracker can solve a lot of problems for the entire remote workforce.
One of the biggest challenges for remote workers is to stay focused during their working hours. Time tracking software works reminds remote workers to have a work discipline. It helps them manage their time from the moment they clock in, to when they log out. such a software also informs everyone when a particular member is available or busy.
For a distributed team, working around the globe, sometimes there are only a few hours of overlap. Time tracking software with a centralized employee dashboard keeps everyone on the same page. Modern day time tracking software comes with lots of well designed features that allows managers to see at a glance who is on duty, when they clocked in and how long they worked. Time tracking software also lets managers see how productively an employee is working and their overall performance during working hours. The software not only keeps employees accountable, helps them to track their own time to better understand how long they worked. The whole time tracking process helps employees to finish their task timely without compromising efficiency or accuracy.
4. Remember breaks are important
Working at home for straight 8 hours or for long periods without breaks leads to increased stress levels, decreased productivity and negatively impacts physical and mental health negatively. Encourage your remote employees to take breaks whenever needed. With the help of time tracking software employees can easily take breaks and return back to work to resume from their paused working hours. After a break employees feel refreshed and return to work with increased productivity.
5. Encourage fitness and wellbeing activities
Working all alone from home makes it difficult for remote workers to stay active. Exercise is a simple solution to overcome all these issues caused from isolation, such as anxiety and depression. As exercise is proven to help not only physical health but also have a huge effect on mental wellbeing. Encourage your employees to remain healthy and remind them to go for a walk daily, to ensure the remote working set up is as conducive to good health as possible. Organize an online fitness class or virtual game session once a month and make these accessible to all employees, no matter their situation. These little steps will help keep employees in the best health, both physically and mentally, as possible.
Various research has shown that a lack of close contact with other people inhibits mutual trust, connection and bonding. These are the three core ingredients to build a healthy lifestyle. However, managers who practice the 5 essential steps discussed can move away from the “out of sight, out of mind” mentality towards a healthier rapport with their remote and distributed team!
6. Plug in an engaging employee wellbeing software
Sometimes words alone may not suffice when you need to convey your support and appreciation to employees specially remote workers. You need to walk the talk and prove the sentiment through actions. Since it’s quite common for remote employees to feel isolated or find themselves standing at the fringes, convey your support by encouraging them to stay connected and communicate or collaborate using an employee engagement software. These types of software can be cutomized based on emplouyee profilesm and prefernces for a more meaningul experience. Sorry, I was on Mute offers one such integrated platform that can be used to acknowledge and reward excellent work or contributions at an individual or team level across your organization. Make accurate data-driven decisions based on the in-depth reports and analytical information that this software provides to create customized rewards and recognitions. You can then take it one step further and align these with your company mission and value system to create a dynamic performance recognition centre.