In the last few weeks, you’ve probably grown more adept at remote
working than you ever thought possible. However, it’s likely you’ve noticed
that some employees will be struggling in their own ways.
Here’s how to support your remote workers, wherever they are.
It’s time to focus on remote employees’ wellbeing
Working remotely has many perks. It offers employees greater
freedom, helps them to simplify their lives, stay closer to friends and family,
and can even help them to feel more inspired.
However, a lack of fixed routine can leave some employees feeling
lost and forgotten. The reduction of social contact with colleagues can cause
them to experience loneliness and without access to the office environment,
they may find it harder to find the support they need.
Furthermore, many employees may also be managing childcare at home
fulltime alongside working, care duties, or home schooling. For younger
employees in house shares, they may struggle to find the physical space to work
effectively and productively.
Prioritizing your employees’ wellbeing is vital. Research has consistently proven a strong correlation between employee wellbeing and productivity, as well as improved employee retention and even customer loyalty.
While employee wellbeing should always be high up on HR’s agenda, in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic it’s more important than ever to ensure your employees are feeling supported while working from home. Here are five things you can do to make them feel supported.
1. Put wellbeing at the top of the HR agenda
If your employees start to feel demotivated, stressed or anxious,
it can be hard for them to reach out for support. By taking a proactive
approach and putting their mental wellbeing front and center, you can encourage
them to speak up when they’re not feeling their best.
This can be as simple as gently nudging your employees to get in
touch if they are experiencing mental health issues and offering personalized
support to those staff.
Additionally, you can signpost your employees towards useful resources. Mind, a mental health charity provides resources and training courses for managers and employees. Their partner organization, Mental Health at Work, even provides a free-to-access coronavirus toolkit for businesses that includes lots of helpful articles and other resources.
2. Allow flexible working
You might think: aren’t remote workers already working
There’s a difference between working from home and working
flexibly. Fully flexible working means having complete control over when and
how you work.
Your employees may find that whilst working from home they would
like to space their working hours out, compress them into fewer days or work
irregular patterns in order to free up time in other parts of the day or week.
This can also support employees managing childcare and other care
responsibilities at home also.
Changing schedules can help your employees to maximize their own
time for mental wellbeing. Even if they only choose to work flexibly in the
short-term, having extra windows of non-working time could help them to take
care of matters in their personal lives that will help them to feel less stressed
and more focused during working hours.
Offering your people this flexibility shouldn’t impact on your
business’s schedule and may even help employees to reach deadlines more
3. Promote switching off
Remote employees may feel like they live at the office rather than
work from home, so it’s vital that they switch off to deter from stress and
We’re notoriously not good at it, however. Nearly a
of remote employees say that they can’t switch off in their personal time and
two-fifths say they check their work phone or emails at least five times a day
outside of their working hours.
While controversial, you could impose an email and call embargo
between set hours. However, this option may not be quite so easy for
international organizations or employees in senior positions.
You could also seek out managers who are great at switching off
and offer up tips to the wider team.
Whatever you do, it’s important to not only communicate the
importance of colleagues switching off, but practice this across your team and
organization too. If senior managers lead from the top, then it will be easier
for employees to reflect this approach too.
4. Encourage conversation
Loneliness and social isolation are the second biggest challenge
faced by employees working from home after “unplugging”.
Therefore, it’s important to help staff feel as connected as
possible during their working days.
To do this, make sure employees have access to the latest
videoconferencing software and encourage them to use it as much as possible.
Video conferences can often prove more efficient than emails and will help
employees to enjoy moments of feeling connected when appropriate.
However, be mindful that conference video fatigue can become an
issue for remote workers. So, encourage employees to connect via video only
when it really matters so employees don’t feel burned out by long or many video
calls each day.
Face-to-face interaction is especially important because it allows
the parties in a conversation to pick up on signals that may otherwise be
missed in an email. Tone of voice, eye contact and body language are easy to
underestimate, but can contribute greatly to understanding and good
Encourage line managers to check in with their direct reports more
frequently too, so that every employee feels supported and has opportunities to
ask questions and discuss any concerns.
5. Host company socials online
Regular social interactions can improve happiness, health, engagement and loyalty, and even reduce stress, according to Forbes. However, it can be hard to fit social interactions in during the day, so a fantastic way to bookend the working week is to host work socials online.
This can include coffee break style catch-ups, planned ‘water
cooler’ chats or just general check-in calls and afternoon socials.
These occasions allow staff to catch up with managers and other
colleagues, to interact in a casual setting and to feel more at home – even
while they are isolated from their fellow employees.
To make employees feel even more involved, you can think of fun
ways to bring these sessions to life. Why not try a quiz or ask staff working
from home to come up with wacky costumes? This can be a great way to bring your
company culture to life even while employees are away from the workplace.
Support your people in the right way
With remote workers, a lack of employee wellbeing might not be so
easy to spot. However, it’s no less important.
Getting workforce wellbeing in a good place could prevent stress from escalating into much more serious mental health issues, helping your workers to be happier and healthier in the future.
What do your workforce really want? Download research from 3,500 workers on what really drives them in their work.
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