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Working from home (WFH) or remote working can bring many benefits to people’s lives. The stressful commute and cost savings from WFH have, no doubt, been welcomed by some employees. Additionally, WFH adds flexibility to employees work schedules and routines because they can choose to work earlier or later hours outside of office opening and closing hours. But WFH or remote working can also have its downsides. By losing the office environment, those who work remotely may experience feelings of isolation and struggle to maintain a healthy work-life balance – which can, in turn, have a serious effect on wellbeing.
Healthy employees are not only happy employees, they’re also more engaged and motivated. This unsurprisingly results in fewer sick days and prevents a loss of productivity for businesses too. The challenge which employers sometimes face is knowing how to put in place the correct measures to support their remote teams properly. When your employees are based in the office, it’s much easier to be aware of any habits or behaviours which could affect wellbeing. It’s important to remain aware of how they might be feeling and adopt a structure that supports their wellbeing.
Working from home can be isolating so it's important to ensure that you and your team have regular check-ins virtually. If not already, find an online tool that works for your teams such as Microsoft teams, Skype or you could simply contact them by phone. Even team management software such as Monday or Assana have chat pop up boxes that can help people to feel connected whilst working. It may be best to schedule these check-ins with team members, so they do not feel interrupted whilst focusing on their work tasks.
2. Organise virtual happy hours, quizzes and networking events
One advantage of working remotely is that it breaks down physical distance. We have learnt to embrace video conferencing as the new normal and are better prepared to bring employees together for virtual events. Informal happy hours or lunch and learns encourage workers to connect with each other eliminating travel costs to each event. Employees will always appreciate the opportunity to connect and socialise informally while they are remote.
As an employer, you’re likely to be responsible for providing, installing and maintaining equipment unless the employee uses their own.
Equipment you need to provide may include:
• A fixed or height-adjustable workstation and suitable office desk chair
• Filing cabinet, drawers and shelving
• PC with office software, anti-virus software, email and broadband internet connection
• Dedicated business telephone line
• Stationery and office supplies
When ordering equipment to facilitate employees WFH try to choose items that have a more domestic look and feel. For example, regular office desks take up a large footprint and will dominate any small space at home. The same applies to office storage solutions and office desk chairs. Try and check the dimensions to see if each item will work in the space it is intended for, many workstations and height-adjustable workstations desks are now 600mm deep so will suit home offices better.
The following items would suit a home office or smaller domestic space:
Without the daily commute and running around to meetings and other business locations, it can be difficult for to stay active. Exercise has been proven to reduce stress and anxiety and has a positive effect on mental wellbeing.
Employers could offer access to free online fitness classes, wellbeing sessions or free or discounted gym membership. An online physio or workstation assessment could be carried out to ensure the remote working set-up is beneficial to health.
By offering these activities and discounted rates, you will make employees feel empowered and motivated. Employees who stay active are better equipped to handle work challenges because exercise improves focus and concentration.
When employees are WFH it can be hard to keep track of their productivity. Some employees may be working harder and longer hours to keep up with difficult tasks they have been assigned and experiencing greater stress levels as a result. On the other hand, if your remote workers don’t have any or limited goals to work to, they will be lacking motivation and feel disengaged.
It’s important to keep checking back with your employees to see how they’re progressing so you can alter any goals or targets to ensure they are not feeling disengaged or overwhelmed.
There is no reason why the shift to remote work should slow down an employee’s career progression or training opportunities. Many industry certifications and training schemes are already available online. Direct employees to these useful resources and if possible, offer to cover any fees. Your company can offer internal training virtually too. It may be a good idea to record these sessions for future on-demand use.
There have been many challenges to our working practices in the last few years and many people may be feeling confused, worried and apprehensive about the changes going on around them – whether this means more people coming back into work, going back to the workplace, or working alongside colleagues and customers again. Many organisations are exploring hybrid working arrangements, while others will be considering a range of adjustments to the way work is done, to comply with government recommendations.
Everyone’s situation is unique but it’s important to stay connected with your teams and employees. Look out for them, let them know you care about how they are feeling. A short phone call to someone who may be feeling isolated or disconnected will make all the difference to their day, it doesn’t have to be work-related either!
Thanks for reading.
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