Although many employees have offered little in the way of complaints when it comes to transitioning towards remote work environments in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, the prolonged periods of isolation can carry a negative impact on their mental well being. This has made it more imperative than ever for employers to monitor the wellness of their workforce.
The work from home (WFH) boom has been an extraordinary development for modern working environments, with company offices and lengthy commutes being swapped for spare rooms and a short shuffle across the hallway each morning.
Although the notion of working from the environment that they’re most comfortable in can seem like a positive one for wellness, employers need to be aware of the impact that working away from colleagues can have on workers.
As the pandemic first emerged, a survey conducted by Headscience found that one fifth of employees highlighted loneliness as their biggest struggle with remote work – with a further 20% suggesting that collaboration and communication was a major problem.
Another key factor that can negatively impact wellness comes in the form of burnout, and ‘not being able to unplug’ from work. This can be down to the less regimented setup that makeshift home office environments can have – meaning that employees are more likely to abandon their contracted daily working hours in order to meet deadlines and get things done after they would normally clock off and head home in the office.
Alongside this, many entrepreneurs struggle to collaborate with low preforming websites and poor digital aids, as slow loading sites with poor functionality can disrupt communication/training effrots.
These factors can carry severe negative long-term effects for employers, but more importantly, they can create lasting mental health problems for workers. Fortunately, there are a number of simple measures that can be taken to help employees to remain engaged and healthy when working outside of the office:
1. Remember to Set Up Regular Avenues for Communication
Whether it’s more frequent and semi-casual one to ones, or regular team Zoom meetings, establishing continual virtual face-to-face communication can make the world of difference for remote employees who may be struggling with isolation.
Although these meetings don’t have to be serious, it provides managers with an excellent opportunity to see how their worker is really feeling about their time spent working remotely. This can provide an excellent insight into employee happiness, wellness, and whether any concerns are mounting regarding work or their personal life.
Remember to avoid keeping things too formal and serious, but by checking in to see if your workers are happy, you can help to build a level of employee trust, and staff can begin to feel more comfortable and emboldened to speak more openly about their work and any concerns.
2. Offer Extra-Curricular Virtual Activities
Another way of helping to prevent feelings of employee isolation is by arranging after-work virtual gatherings. Not only can this help to improve the connections made between remote employees within teams through collaborative exercises, but it can also help to prevent burnout by encouraging workers to switch off after work and let their hair down.
These virtual gatherings can consist of just about anything – from book or film clubs, quiz nights, virtual tours of venues or museums, or simply a working week wrap party with drinks.
Of course, it’s important for employees to ‘want’ to join in with these activities, and so it’s best to gauge enthusiasm via surveys and to always ask for feedback. Whilst these events should never be interpreted as compulsory, they can become a key component of a positive company culture.
3. Keep Employees Connected with Newsletters
The transition towards remote work should be regarded as an opportunity for employers to revise their approach to newsletters, and company materials. Whilst company newsletters are nothing new, they can take on new meaning and relevance for workers who may rarely come into physical contact with their offices or headquarters.
By committing to a monthly newsletter, a business can keep its employees informed, connected, and engaged in all aspects of the company. From an overview of finances, goals, and growth strategies, to light-hearted games, employee stories, and the charitable activities being undertaken.
Creating a newsletter that resonates with employees has been made easy through websites like Powered Template, which offers a wide range of free and premium quality newsletter templates that are professionally designed and are 100% editable.
With almost 2,500 newsletter templates available via Powered Template, the production process of an impactful, engaging, and entertaining newsletter can be a swift process – making it an easy-to-implement company improvement.
4. Replicate Your In-House Benefits
In-office perks are a key means of helping employees to feel looked after by employers. Whilst these perks can be as simple as free pizza on Wednesdays, beer on Friday afternoons, or a well-stocked fridge courtesy of the company, they can resonate strongly with workers.
When working remotely, these perks have vanished completely, meaning that it’s somewhat harder for employees to feel the same sense of care. This doesn’t have to be the case however, and replicating in-house benefits can even help to boost productivity for remote employees. By offering free stationary supplies, or healthy eating subscription boxes to staff, businesses can physically care for their employees and see the benefits in their performance.
Another consideration should be gym discounts to help employees to maintain their health despite spending less time moving to, from, and around their office space each day.
5. Lead by Example
Finally, it’s vital that you adhere to your own rules. This means that you as a manager should always maintain the importance of breaks at work, and the value of switching off from the working day.
This means that it’s perfectly reasonable to ensure that employees know that you won’t be responding to work email when outside of your working hours, and that you’ll be going for a walk on your lunch break so will be away from your desk for the next 45 minutes.
Above all, it’s important to respect that every employee is different and that their approach to working from home is likely to vary considerably from their counterparts. Be sure to adapt to their expectations and approach to working comfortably away from the office.
For instance, more introverted employees may struggle to enjoy lively team video calls but could be more receptive to casual one-to-one check ins. However, by following these five steps, you could have a productive and happy and healthy working environment that’s built on employee satisfaction.