As many people continue to work from home, it is vital that employers implement the necessary supports to manage the health and well-being of remote workers.
Employee well-being and workplace ergonomics have been key concerns of employers who are managing employees working from home. The latest research shows that the cost of mental health-related absenteeism last year was in the billions of pounds. As more people become susceptible to burnout and fatigue, it’s important that companies invest in the well-being of their workers.
Furthermore, an increased blurring of work/life balance means that workers are spending more time at their desks. In fact, the average worker now works an extra two hours a day compared to pre-Covid times. With this in mind, it’s vital that employers ensure this extra workload does not cause more problems.
Supporting the health and well-being of workers is an important aspect of management for any business. With all the challenges people have faced over the past year, it is vital that employers provide supports to manage the well-being of people working remotely. The good news is that there are plenty of things leaders can do to ensure their workforce is happy, healthy, and productive. Below, we outline some ways management can help support the health and well-being of remote workers
Ways to support the health and well-being of Remote workers
1. Build good habits while working at home
There is no doubt that working remotely during a pandemic is different than a normal remote working arrangement, but it is equally important not to develop bad habits. Maintaining the same routine pre-Covid is necessary for good mental health. Waking up early, eating a healthy breakfast, dressing appropriately, and moving around are all good ways to start the day. When finished with work in the evening, closing down the laptop and avoiding answering emails after work hours are necessary to prevent work/life imbalance.
2. Have a dedicated remote workspace
If possible, having a designated workspace that is free from all home-life distractions is recommended for remote workers. This workspace enables workers to help segment their work and home life so that once the day is finished, they can relax. Additionally, leaders need to ensure that their teams have access to the correct tools and equipment necessary to get their work done.
3. Maintain a regular work schedule
For some remote workers, maintaining their normal 9-5 work schedule helps keep them productive while working from home. Others may require more flexibility in their day. For example, working parents may need to take time off during the day to help care for their children, allowing them to finish their tasks later in the evening. Regardless of what hours people are working, it is vital that they maintain a consistent work schedule when working remotely.
3. Use holiday leave entitlements
While working from home, it is still important for workers to take their holiday entitlements. Workers who do not take their entitlements can often suffer from burnout leading to absenteeism. Taking some much-needed time off helps decrease work-related stress and prevent fatigue.
4. Provide mental health supports
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the mental health of workers has become a huge priority for businesses. Uncertainty, stress, isolation, and grief are just some of the pressures workers face right now. Therefore, providing access to mental health supports such as counselling and/or articles and talks are all ways employers can help improve the mental health of their workers.
5. Maintain regular communication
Isolation and lack of connectivity can be detrimental to a remote worker’s health. Leaders must ensure that they have a clear communication strategy in place when staff are working from home. Regular individual check-ins help keep projects on track and leaders can gauge how a worker is feeling. In these one-to-one meetings, both the worker and the leader can discuss any issues that come up.
6. Create opportunities for building connection
Maintaining a connection with colleagues can be difficult when you are working remotely. However, it is important to continue to connect with others. By having the correct tools in place, workers can communicate regularly with their colleagues through video calls, instant messaging, and email. Many remote workers miss the ‘watercooler conversation’ moments, so it is important that leaders provide a safe space online for colleagues to get together to share news and discuss projects.
7. Host company activities regularly
As more people work remotely, it is important to create or provide access to an online company wellness programme. Organising yoga or meditation online classes helps remote workers to engage with their colleagues as well as providing much-needed health benefits to help them cope during a stressful time.
Social interaction is important in the workplace. Regular company events such as virtual quizzes or happy hours are great opportunities for everyone to talk with each other and have some fun while working remotely.
It is especially important during stressful times for managers to continue monitoring the health of their workers by providing mental supports, maintaining engagement, and having regular check-ins. Developing a culture of well-being not only improves mental health, but also creates a happy workforce that is productive, confident, and communicative.