Working Remotely? Here's How to Keep Employees Happy

October 3, 2021

The majority of my contact with coworkers now take place over the internet. After all, we do most of our work at home.

We're not sure when we'll all be back in person again, with COVID-19 cases on the rise again and new variants appearing.

Of course, our predicament isn't unusual. By 2022, companies estimate that roughly 40% of their employees would still be commuting on the carpet.

To put it another way, remote work is here to stay, at least in some form.

Employers must reexamine their philosophy regarding the employee experience as it applies to wellbeing for remote workers, given their prolonged separation from coworkers (and, for some, other support networks) and stress from the pandemic.

But, what precisely is wellness? It's difficult to define, and different people interpret it differently.

It's a feeling of healthy balance for my team. We want our employees to feel confident in their abilities to look for themselves and prioritize their mental, physical, and emotional needs.

Sure, we want them to be productive as well; it's an unavoidable requirement. At the same time, we recognize that staff productivity cannot be achieved if they are suffering from mental health issues, lack motivation, or sleep deprivation.

The problem is that getting a sense of an employee's wellness and engagement levels through Zoom, Slack, or email interactions can be difficult. You might be able to detect red signals in person, such as decreased participation or social withdrawal.

It's tough to tell whether someone is having a bad day or needs time off to care for their health when they're online.

Despite these challenges, we've made it our aim to prioritize staff wellness, despite our geographical dispersion. If you're in a similar scenario, try some of the following strategies that have worked for our team:

1. Follow up with personnel on a frequent basis

When you work in an office, you don't have to put up as much effort to communicate with your coworkers. After all, they're right in front of you in the corridor or the break room.

When you have telecommuters, though, you must make check-ins a habit.

We contact with our employees on a frequent basis, both in groups and individually. We may use these touchpoints to remind people to be safe, wear masks, follow healthy routines, and put their health first.

To make it simpler for employees to communicate to you about their own needs, be transparent about your sentiments and how you're taking care of your health. They could infer you expect them to do the same if they think you're trying to be superhuman.

That is neither reasonable nor healthy.

2. Encourage healthy lifestyle choices

Employees aren't your children. You can't make them stop going to the freezer at midnight for ice cream or limit how much they drink.

You can help them live a healthier lifestyle by making it more convenient for them. For starters, I recommend providing an EAP (employee assistance program).

Remind everyone that the EAP is a free service that they can use to deal with any problems they may be having in a private setting.

We've also set aside funds to deliver organic, all-natural snacks to our personnel. They can eat better even if they can't be on-site.

We also discuss strategies to keep our bodies moving, such as going for walks outside, going to the gym (when they're open), and eating nutritious meals. Encourage them to take vacation time to unwind and get away from the office.

You don't have to be overbearing; simply seek for ways to make your employees understand that they always have options.

3. Monitor workloads and performance rather than output

You might have measured everyone's productivity when you were all in the same office. However, at this stage, it's probably best to keep track of everyone's performance and workload.

You might, for example, need to reallocate certain responsibilities from week to week. You will, however, need to ask your employees to tell you if they are overworked or burned out.

Most employees won't admit they're having work-life balance issues that are interfering with their employment until they're way over their heads. As a result, you'll have to ask related questions throughout your check-ins to find out how they're feeling.

You can also make company-wide changes to aid with work-life balance, such as establishing distinct workday bookends. A enjoyable ritual can help team members stop overworking themselves early in the morning or late into the evening by setting expectations of when the workday begins and finishes.

4. Pay attention to your team's carers

On your team, you most likely have a few carers. These are the parents whose children are still at home or whose daycare facilities aren't yet secure.

They could also be employees aiding elderly relatives with health or mobility issues. Caring for a loved one is difficult enough, so adding telecommuting to the mix can be overwhelming.

Consider offering more resources for your caregivers in light of this. These can include online tutoring for their children, fresh meals delivered on a regular basis, or more flexible working hours.

Your help can go a long way toward making their lives easier and, as a result, allowing them to do better job.

We're eager to return to the office, albeit in a reduced form, at this point. Our goal is to implement a hybrid working paradigm that meets the demands of everyone.

But one thing is certain: we'll continue to invest in wellness initiatives for the employees who help our company prosper.

Employee wellbeing should always be a priority, no matter what the future of work holds - hybrid, totally in person, or fully remote. It's just smart business to accommodate your team's demands and look after the people that help your brand prosper.

Thanks to Jeff Pozen at Business 2 Community whose reporting provided the original basis for this story.

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