WellBeing for Remote Employees
The new normal – don’t lose sight of health and wellbeing

How to support the wellbeing of remote employees

Hybrid Working and Wellbeing

The pandemic brought sudden and radical changes to our lives – with many companies switching to home working for the duration of lockdowns and beyond, only returning to the office when it was safe to do so, and employees felt comfortable with it.

Looking back, it might have felt as though it lasted forever, but the reality is that the significant disruption was relatively short, and what happened was that many businesses, and their staff, discovered there were benefits on both sides to being flexible and retaining an element of remote working.

For many, the daily pattern has settled down and decisions have been made about whether to return to the office, or carry on with remote working, or adopt hybrid working – a combination of the two, with employees finding a routine that suits them and their colleagues, and the business.

But wherever there is an element of home working, companies need to be aware of the strain that can put on workers. It’s important to understand that even if working from home is a choice, there may well be times when it impacts the mental wellbeing of the individual.

The better work-life balance and less time wasted travelling are positives, but negatives can also arise when workers aren’t sure what is expected of them, if they’re worried about missing out on interaction within the office, or if they feel they are being overlooked because they’re not physically present in the office.

So, what can you do as an employer?

Individuals

Firstly, check with the individual what form of work they’re most happy with. Just because they fell into remote working because of circumstances doesn’t mean it’s right for them long term. Maybe they don’t feel they can broach the subject, so make sure you ask them for an open and honest opinion on what they would prefer to do.

Clarity

For those working from home all or part of the time, ensure you are clear about what you expect. Are there set days when they need to be in the office, for instance? How flexible is the hybrid working model? How are they to communicate with managers and colleagues and how often? If they are stressed about whether they are meeting expectations, that will have an effect on their work and wellbeing.

Communication

Even if it’s a choice to work from home, isolation has a huge impact on mental health. Try to ensure the human connections that are part and parcel of office life don’t get forgotten. Team days when everyone is in the office to finish or update a project, or regular lunches when everyone can meet in a relaxed setting, are invaluable. Regular calls with line managers or colleagues help to keep the relationship healthy and provide a chance to open up conversations that help judge a person’s mood.

Managing

There are courses line managers can undertake to help them manage people in different ways. This should include training in spotting potential issues surrounding the health and wellbeing of colleagues working from home – often something as simple as just asking someone how they are doing.

Encourage

A culture where people feel they can speak up if they are struggling with their mental health is vital. Just because they are doesn’t mean remote or hybrid working isn’t for them. Finding ways to help them adapt and cope are equally important.

So much has been done to encourage a greater focus on mental health and wellbeing in the office environment, but remote or hybrid working throws up new challenges. But careful planning and more understanding of what workers want, and need will ensure whatever working style you choose works for your business.

Hannah Hewitt
July 29, 2022
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