Even as much of the global workforce is beginning to come out of lockdown, there’s no doubt that a new normality will set in when it comes to remote working. Companies across the world have realized the benefits that come from providing flexibility to their employees and allowing them to work from a distributed location.
However, with remote work comes the added responsibility of ensuring employee wellness from a distance. Buffer’s 2019 report found that 49% of remote workers’ biggest struggle is wellness-related, with 22% saying they can’t unplug after work and 19% noting feelings of loneliness.
The advent of this “new normal” as a result of isolation measures means millions of workers are likely to continue to do their jobs away from the office at least some of the time, so it’s crucial that companies keep closer tabs on teams’ well-being. Here’s how they can do so.
Keep tabs on mental health. Especially during the crisis — which is far from over — and afterwards, companies should be paying close attention to their team’s mental health. The World Health Organization (WHO) recently released a mental health guide for those that are self-isolating, stating that “this time of crisis is generating stress in the population.”
In order to combat this, employers should make sure that every team member is contacted regularly by someone in management or HR to check up on how they’re doing. Businesses can also introduce regular team catch-ups, where employees report on what they’re working on and share challenges. These could also include non-work related meetings, such as a virtual lunch or even a yoga or meditation class to help reduce stress.
On a wider level, team leaders can also distribute links to mental health support websites or charities, and be open about the topic to reduce any stigma that anyone may have.
Encourage active breaks. Working from home without the usual office breaks can mean many home workers are sitting in front of their computers for prolonged periods of time without break. This is dangerous, as being too sedentary can lead to long-term health problems.
Employers should encourage their staff to take regular breaks to stand up and walk around, go outside, or even engage in some light exercise throughout the work day. They can do this by scheduling time in calendars for people to take an active pause, and showcasing when they are doing it themselves.
Provide ergonomic solutions. In order to promote a healthy work-from-home environment, organizations can consult their teams on the kind of set-up they have at home and provide ergonomic solutions for those that don’t have a comfortable workstation.
Ergonomic solutions could include anything from chairs and foot pedals that help you keep your muscles engaged while sitting, to standing desks, or even ergonomically designed keyboards and mice that prevent wrist strain. Investing in these kinds of solutions can go a long way to promote employee well-being while working remotely.
Incentivize exercise. It’s no secret that regular exercise is foundational to general well-being, and there are ways for employers to promote this within their teams too. Managers can encourage employees to exercise by finding out what types of exercise their team members like — be it a relaxing yoga session or an energizing HIIT class — and setting up virtual group sessions. There are a number of resources available, some of which are free during isolation measures, including Nike Training Club and Daily Workouts. Equally, YouTube has plenty of follow-along videos that can facilitate this.
In order to incentivize employees to keep up the habit, team leaders can set up leaderboards and provide rewards for things like “most creative workout equipment” or “most motivational attitude.” Physical activity not only promotes general well-being, but also boosts productivity — it’s a win-win all round.
As we enter into the new workplace reality and organizations begin to make decisions on what their future workplace will look like, it’s vital that employers make team member well-being a top priority. Businesses must promote mental and physical wellness and provide the opportunities for employees to take the time they need to feel rested and revitalized when it comes to their work.