The benefits of remote work have been proven empirically in the last few years — especially in the highly unusual and stressful conditions of a global pandemic. Telecommuting has allowed many of us to keep our jobs. It has also enabled companies to continue their operations as unhampered as possible
Yet working out of the office, away from one’s professional social circle, can be daunting. While some people thrive in it, it can get truly lonely for others. Burnout, dissatisfaction, fatigue from online communication, team collaboration problems, and productivity decline are just some of the issues that remote and hybrid workers may face.
According to a 2021 survey by the American Psychiatric Association (APA), only 20% of employees have been offered extra mental health support since the beginning of the pandemic.
Company leaders and HR managers can take effective preventive actions to support the wellbeing of employees in the context of remote and other flexible models like hybrid work. Even if problems have already appeared, there are a number of proven methods that can help people feel connected to their teams and improve their mental health in the long run.
Here are our top tips for providing remote employees with the right conditions and techniques for workplace satisfaction and personal wellbeing.
Remote employees can easily foster a growing feeling of being disconnected from the team, the company, and the overall purpose of their work. The more they feel that way, the harder it is for them to take part in the team dynamic and to stay productive.
While one-on-one meetings with management are not a silver bullet, they’re an important step in keeping remote workers engaged and on the same page.
Regular meetings with team members should not be simply administrative in nature. They can be an occasion to connect with people, listen to their stories and worries, and brainstorm solutions for personal and team obstacles together.
In most cases, people take days off to go on vacation or take care of administrative or health issues. Most employees are ashamed or consider mental health pauses inappropriate, even if they direly need them. There are many reasons for this, but certainly shame and the stigma of ‘being mentally sick’ have a lot to do with these attitudes.
Acknowledging the new types of stress related to remote work is the first step to supporting employees in their struggle with mental health issues. Days off dedicated specifically to mental health are a great step in this direction. They provide employees with time they can spend in any way they see fit — which will help them regain their powers and brush off the stress.
Such affirmative action is a strong sign for your team members that your company values not only their professional contribution but also them as individuals with different needs. It’s a healthy way to make people feel safe and supported. If it’s not taboo to take a day off to clear one’s head, more people would potentially be able to open up about their struggles and find solutions.
The impact of social isolation due to the pandemic has been enormous. While some people have a home full of family members, others live alone. If they don’t have an office to go to, their only social contacts during the day may be online meetings with colleagues. Many can trick themselves to think that’s fine, only to realize they’re awfully lonely.
Mental health sessions for your team can be a good way to bring up the topic of loneliness and the effects of social isolation. Mentors can teach and support remote employees in creating healthy routines that balance between getting work done, on one hand, and leisure time and activities with loved ones, on the other.
You can also encourage regular team building activities — even if only online. As the pandemic is gradually being put under control in many places around the globe, remote workers may be able to occasionally meet up with their teams in person too. If the conditions in your business locations allow it, you can organize team retreats and other get-togethers to keep the team chemistry going.
While people are ultimately responsible for their own wellbeing, companies can support remote employees in building a healthy daily regime — especially in the new online work environment.
One good option to help your workers in their efforts to adapt to the new circumstances is to offer free or discounted memberships for online or offline fitness or exercise programs. Such perks are usually on the list for bigger companies anyway, but they may be even more important in the current switch to remote. As most of us have to build new regimes, a little nudge in the right direction can be effective.
In addition, training and advice on how to balance work tasks and personal time, how to limit the use of digital devices, and how to prevent burnout can all be useful for remote employees. This can also support them in overcoming the so-called ‘Zoom fatigue’.
For most employees, professional development is an important workplace perk. However, with the shift to remote, many options for training have been cancelled.
This can be demotivating for workers who have set professional goals. That’s why it’s a good idea to offer online training. They may even be better or more diversified, given the fact that employees would be able to access seminars and sessions held at any point in the world.
When people see there is tangible career progress ahead of them — through appropriate training — they’re better able to cope with the changes that remote work brings. Keeping remote workers’ professional perspectives open and optimistic is thus key in providing them with a stimulating work environment, even if it’s mostly digital.
A new workplace model has been settling in over the last few years, which has been further propelled by the pandemic — the hybrid workplace. It combines the best of remote work and having a physical office. Workers can typically choose when and how to work away from the office, and when to come in.
For many companies and employees, the hybrid model is a lifesaver. It offers the needed level of flexibility and adaptability that the recent developments in the workplace require. Team members are not asked to choose from two options — remote or in the office but can have both. Naturally, there can be circumstances when either of the two is necessary, but the overall approach is quite liberal.
With solid coordination and planning from management and HR, the hybrid model can be a solution for many of the mental health struggles that remote workers face.
Most of all, people would have the choice to be present in the office with at least a part of their team whenever they need to, given that the regulations in the particular location allow in-person work.
If you want to try out the hybrid work model but aren’t sure where to start, check out OfficeRnD Hybrid. It gives you the fundamental features you need to kick off your hybrid work model (like visual floor planning, desk and meeting room booking, and more) while keeping things simple and user-friendly.
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