Mental health and employee wellness are at the heart of a strong, engaged workplace. But today’s workers are under increasing levels of stress. And remote workers aren’t immune. While remote work has many advantages, it can create opportunities for extra stress.
Remote workers are working longer hours and spending more time in meetings. A survey by staffing firm Robert Half found that working parents were more likely to work weekends and more than eight hours per day than those without children.
According to a survey by TELUS International, 4 out of 5 remote workers find it hard to “shut off” in the evenings and 45% said they feel less healthy mentally working from home. And without in-person interactions and socialization with coworkers, remote work can be especially isolating.
In other words, remote workers are stressed. And that’s bad for your employees and bad for business.
Use the following tips to improve remote worker wellbeing and help your team better balance work and family life while working from home.
Employee wellness starts at the top. Make sure you and other leaders are taking care of themselves so they can take better care of their teams. The following tips will help you and your leaders maintain a healthy lifestyle, combat stress, and avoid burnout while working remotely.
One of the biggest perks of working from home is the added flexibility—but there’s a fine line between flexibility and chaos. Build a new routine to keep your day structured and your work organized so it doesn’t slip into after-hours and weekends. A routine can help you ensure a healthy sleep-wake cycle, a normal meal schedule, and a regular workflow.
2-3 nutrient-rich meals a day will help you stay focused, positive, and energized. Try not to raid the pantry for junk food fixes throughout the day, which may relieve stress temporarily but can cause sluggishness and weight gain.
Exercise inside with a home workout or get outside for a walk, a run, or a cycle. Regular exercise increases energy, improves sleep and cognitive function, and boosts your mood.
Working from home blurs the boundary between work time and personal time. Maintain a regular schedule when you are available to check email and take calls. For example, after 7 p.m., don’t respond to work emails. Focus on personal and family time. The work will still be there in the morning.
Schedule virtual happy hours with your coworkers, share funny memes on Slack, or even host an office Netflix party. It is important to maintain strong social connections with our coworkers and friends, whether in-person or remote.
This is a difficult ask when so much work and now social life is tied to our computers and phones. But too much screen time, especially checking the news, can be draining and pull you away from other healthy activities like exercise and fresh air.
Burnout is common even when there isn’t a global pandemic. Now with the increased anxiety, uncertainty, and upheaval in work and personal life, your employees are at even higher risk.
If you pay attention to the signs, you can learn to recognize when your employees are struggling and take steps to support them and hopefully avoid burnout.
Watch out for these telltale signs of employee burnout:
Taken alone, these signs don’t necessarily spell burnout. But prolonged issues or a combination of these signs might indicate a more worrisome trend. Allow for flexibility and look for opportunities to provide extra support to your remote employees.
Want to know how your employees are doing? Ask. Check in with your team often to see what things are going well and what struggles or obstacles your employees are facing. A weekly team meeting is a great opportunity to touch base and share.
If you notice anyone having a hard time, reach out individually to discuss what’s going on and how you can support them better. You might need to adjust performance goals, offer more flexibility on deadlines, or communicate differently.
Your employees may be juggling not only a new workflow but also home and family responsibilities at the same time. Pay attention to how your employees are feeling and look for signs of stress so you can mitigate the risk of burnout. One-on-one meetings are the perfect opportunity to check in with each person and see how things are going.
Even if their productivity hasn’t fallen, if they express concerns about feeling overwhelmed or overworked, work with them to reassess their workload. Clarify what your expectations are for performance, communication, schedules, and availability.
Having these conversations early and often will help prevent employee stress from getting out of hand and create a more healthy and sustainable work environment for everyone.
Employee appreciation is one of the most important ways to show you care about and value your team members. Look for unique opportunities to show your appreciation for your staff. Take time to share team wins, recognize specific employees in team meetings, and send private emails or messages of encouragement and gratitude to individuals.
Working from home can be a great benefit to families who need and value flexibility. But it can be easy for employees to blur the line between work time and family time—especially if they don’t have a dedicated home office separate from the rest of the house. So encourage self-care among your team and practice it yourself.
Consider brainstorming self-care ideas at your next team meeting or start an ongoing Slack conversation for employees to share ideas and check in with each other. Give them permission to take a break and set boundaries from work—and lead by example. Make sure you’re setting healthy boundaries too. Set virtual office hours and stick to them. Share ways you’re taking time for yourself and be flexible and supportive of your employees’ efforts.
Do you have team members with kids at home during the day? This adds another level of stress and coordination for your employees as they juggle work and homeschool or caregiving. While you can’t take their kids off their hands, you can give them support from afar.
The following free resources can help support your employees’ school and work efforts at home.
Remote work is here to stay, so it’s important to take steps now to build wellness into your remote processes and team cultures. As you prioritize the mental health and wellbeing of your remote teams, you will see not only happier employees but more productive and engaged teams.
Having a remote workforce can lead to a disconnected culture, misalignment and poor collaboration. Find out how to boost company culture, strengthen teams, and drive engagement, performance, and success in a remote environment.
Published May 11, 2021 | Written By Jocelyn Stange