2020 and 2021 have been difficult years for many, but hopefully there were still many positives. After all, every cloud has a silver lining. We saw many people being forced to adapt to remote working. Some took to it like a duck to water, whilst others in dribs and drabs. What’s clear though and something which was much more openly discussed was the importance of employee wellbeing. A report carried out by Business In The Community, set out a clear call to actions for employees, one of them being: “Elevate mental health and safety on a par with physical health and safety.”
This post will look at ways you can prioritise employee wellbeing when working remotely, so that you’re all working at your very best, even if you can’t pop over to their desk and discuss the weather.
Communicate, communicate and communicate!
When working remotely it’s easy to get caught in your own little bubble, before you know it, it’s been two months and you’re forgetting what your employees look like. Okay, a little hyperbolic but you get what we’re trying to say. Don’t let a period of silence build up, make sure that you’re communicating daily. Use a mixture of communication methods, video calls, instant messaging, emails and whatever else you use, so that you can keep things relatively fresh.
Be warned though, there is such a thing as over communicating, which after a while can get a little exhausting. Save the video calls for when you have something meaningful to discuss, whether this be a project you’re working on or an overdue catch-up. Avoid scheduling video calls for every tiny detail, no matter how tempting. This will combat fatigue and mean that when you do see other people, you’re genuinely engaged and interested.
Understand your employees needs
As well as communicating with your employees, try to understand what they want from remote working. Understand that unless they have worked remotely before, this way of working can come as a massive shock. Some may be finding it hard to cope with their new routine and the only way you’ll know how this can be improved is by asking.
A questionnaire is a great way to get input from your team anonymously. This should give you a true insight into how your employees are feeling and what you can do to life their spirits. What you ask is completely up to you, but we’d suggest asking about what challenges their facing, what they like about remote working, what you can do to help and being honest about what the future workplace will look like.
Encourage exercise and breaks
When you’re in the office it’s brilliant to get away from your screen and make yourself a cuppa. The same can be said when you’re working remotely. Let your employees know that you’re happy for them to take breaks when they need to. The same can be said for exercise. Countless studies have shown the positive impact exercise can have on mental wellbeing, motivation and productivity.
Create walking or running channels that people can be a part of. People or much more likely to exercise if there is a sense of comradery in doing so.
Set clear boundaries
One of the greatest challenges to overcome when working remotely is figuring out how to separate your work and personal life. This can be particularly difficult for employees who live alone, in a small property where their workspace intertwines with their relax space. Try to educate your employees on the importance of distinguishing between your work life and your personal life.
This could be as simple as having your employees plan something for the evening that they can look forward to. Setting up a channel where your employees can share book/film recommendations, cooking recipes, anything that isn’t work related and will help them switch off when evening time comes around.
Flexible working for the win
It’s likely that your employees will share different responsibilities and work in very different ways. Use remote working as an avenue to explore flexible working. If someone describes themselves as morning person or alternatively a night owl, let them work the hours they feel the most productive. Your employees may have childcare responsibilities, let them work flexibly to best suit these responsibilities.
Putting trust in your employees to work flexibly when they feel most comfortable to do so is an important element of prioritising employee wellbeing when working remotely.
Arrange in-person meetups
Not exactly possible right now but when it is allowed make sure that you organise in-person meetups with your employees. You can only get to know someone so well virtually, to work better as a team, their needs to be some form of real human connection.
This could be fortnightly, monthly, or even every couple of months. Plus, it’s a great excuse to do something that isn’t work related. Use these meetups as an opportunity to schedule a team-building exercise or a small party. Point is, these meetups will help your employees get to know each other on a more personal level, which will only prove beneficial when working remotely.
A step in the right direction
The willingness to discuss prioritising employee mental wellbeing Is a massive step in the right direction. With remote and flexible working here for the foreseeable, let’s hope that we see more and more companies place an emphasis on looking after the mental health of their workers.