As restrictions begin to ease in many parts of the world as more and more vaccines are distributed, many are left wondering about the future of the workspace. Will companies be looking to bring their employees back to the office in full force, or is remote/partly remote work here to stay, at least for the foreseeable future? Making employee and workplace wellbeing one of the biggest workplace issues of 2021.
If you’ve missed our other articles related to this topic, we invite you to head over to the Brixx Blog and take a look through our Workplace Well-Being section for some ideas on how you can see success with smaller teams, deal with stress at work and more.
While physical health of employees is at the forefront of health concerns in the business sector as a result of Covid-19, mental health numbers have been rising across the globe as once office-bound personnel continue to work remotely and in isolation.
In this post, we’ll be focusing on the following:
- How working from home can affect employee wellness and how does that impact your business?
- The effects of remote working on the day to day
- Addressing the six dimensions of wellbeing
- Final thoughts
How working from home can affect employee wellness and how does that impact your business?
In light of current events, companies are beginning to look beyond the Covid-19 pandemic – realising that the “new normal” may mean having employees to continue working remotely full-time, part-time or on a flexible schedule.
As with everything, there are upsides and downsides to having your employees work from home – both for the employees and for the company itself. While these may not be the same ups and downs for everybody, we’ll be focussing on six areas generally affected by working remotely
- Employee satisfaction
- Cost savings
- Morale and focus
- Health habits
Workplace stress can have a devastating impact on your employees’ physical and mental wellbeing. Working from home can alleviate some of the stress associated with the typical workday. For example, very few of your employees will miss inching through traffic, jostling with others for a seat on the bus, or frantically fighting through subway stations to get to work on time.
Some employees thrive in the work-oriented environment of an office. But others find it easier to focus and get work done without the distractions of chatty co-workers, and the general hubbub of a busy office. Employees who have a hard time focusing in today’s open offices may find themselves flying through their to-do list when sitting in their quiet home.
Working from home can also save your employees and your company money, and if your company has enough full-time remote workers – you may even eliminate or downgrade major expenses like real estate. For employees, savings can come from spending less on fuel, work attire, lunches, and more – and with the current economic uncertainty, every little bit counts.
Remote working is made possible by modern communications technology such as Zoom, Slack, Skype, email, mobile phone and more. While many employees are comfortable attending those Zoom meetings you’ve scheduled, some aren’t. While you may think that weekly call or meeting that goes on for an hour is productive, you may just be causing your team anxiety by putting them on the spot or wasting valuable time that they could be using for actual work – is what you want to meet about not able to be discussed over Slack or an email? No matter how much an employee embraces working from home, five back-to-back Zoom meetings definitely affect their energy levels and their body, impacting workplace wellbeing.
Morale and Focus
Work gives us a sense of shared purpose with others. A workplace is a community. But when workers are isolated at home, they can feel on their own as there are fewer opportunities for random encounters or bonding activities such as lunches, happy hours–or just one-on-one conversations that aren’t about work.
Along with a lack of motivation or morale comes the inability to focus. While some employees may feel thrilled to be able to work from their comfort zones, some may find it easy to become distracted and unmotivated to work due to their “make-shift” work spaces that include noisy children, loud tvs and more.
Physical wellness suffers at the hands of a change in routine. That regular pre-work gym session falls by the wayside, the kitchen becomes a go-to, and a more flexible schedule may result in employees procrastinating during the day and then staying up late at night to finish tasks, impacting their sleep schedule. Employers should be encouraging employees to develop a schedule that allows them to focus on keeping their physical health as well as their mental health in the green zone to improve workplace wellbeing.
A recent article on Forbes brings into focus the impact of remote work on mental health on employee and workplace wellbeing:
“Two causes for concern are isolation and burnout. Remote work is a common trend in many industries today, especially tech and business services; many are already familiar with how the solitude of working remotely can impact mental health. For those who are accustomed to and appreciative of conventional “office life” and a steady rate of social interactions at the office, the shift to remote work as a result of social distancing procedure during the Covid-19 pandemic might cause a surprising, even if relatively mild, deterioration of mental health.”
You can head over to read this article by clicking here.
Whether your employees are currently working from home or if you’re planning on having them return to the office full-time, remote working may be around long after the pandemic has passed us and employers should be looking beyond the temporary effects of Covid-19 and focus on how to adjust to the new normal while keeping their employees and bottom line happy.
The effects of remote working on the day to day
Working from home is still a relatively new trend but a very promising one. The global pandemic will definitely have its implications. In a post-COVID world, the dynamics of office culture have changed. Being forced into work-from-home due to the lockdowns has helped to bust some myths and cleared many scepticisms against remote working.
Remote working, with all its benefits, though, will not be effective for every company. Some jobs require people to be at the office or in the field. Also, it has been found that older workers or people who live in places with poor wifi access can struggle to work remotely.
In addition, the increasing number of employees working from home over the past year has brought to light two key issues that employers are seeing happen more frequently: Isolation and burnout. On the one hand, employees are facing more loneliness than ever before and it seems that as a result of this new normal’s “forced” isolation, employees are working harder than ever before causing them to take on too much and burnout as a result.
Remote work has been a rising trend for several years, and the Covid-19 pandemic has revealed the opportunities and challenges of working from home for many companies that may not have considered it an option. One silver lining of the Covid-19 situation may be that it demonstrates the unexpected ability of many organizations to adapt quickly to the physical and mental health needs of its workforce. One thing for sure is that in this time of uncertainty and anxiety, mental health and workplace wellbeing, now at home or the office, must be a priority for employers.
Forbes has a great article on “How To Maintain Your Mental Health While Working From Home” which is great for employees and employers alike.
There are a number of areas that are affected by the rise of remote working, we’ll briefly go over a few of these to give you an idea without getting into too much detail.
- People would rather save the time spent traveling and use it towards their workday, as a result, they are more productive.
- Face-to-face is still the most preferred method of communication among employees (video chats excluded) as humans are naturally social creatures, desiring interaction. Technology like Slack and Zoom has made it easier than ever before to communicate with colleagues.
- While in-office working may be more rigid and scheduled, working from home allows employees to be more flexible with their time. Employers that allow their teams a certain amount of flexibility tend to see improved productivity as a result (come on, who wouldn’t work a bit quicker with an incentive of taking a little time off to spend it with loved ones).
- The right work ambience boosts productivity while the wrong one can be harshly detrimental to it. When working at the office, employees don’t have a choice in their work environment or office setting but at home they’re in their own comfort zone and are more likely to have reduced stress as a result. Of course, the opposite is true if you’re having to juggle children and other less than stress-free home situations with your day-job.
- An increase in productivity among remote workers is commonly attributed to fewer interruptions, less stress from no commute, minimal office politics, and a personalised, quiet environment.
- When working from an office, managers have a clear view of what the team members are working on. They can easily go up to an employee and ask questions or hold short discussions. But this is not possible if the employees are working from home. Shifting from office-based work to remote working needs essential shifts in the company policies in order to maintain communication but there are plenty of tools available for this.
- A key benefit for organisations choosing to have their employees work from home is that it helps them cut down on some otherwise essential costs. For employees, too, this is a win-win deal. They can save big on transport costs and the expenses of maintaining a formal wardrobe and are less likely to be tempted to go out and spend money on happy hours, or eating out frequently.
Employee Onboarding & Training
- Despite the list of work-from-home benefits, physical distance adds a few of its own challenges. For instance, interns and new employees get a lot more value when they are sitting side by side with their manager, mentor, and peers. Virtual onboarding can be a bit more complex. Logistic issues also show up while setting up the employee’s workstation with a laptop, access keys, etc. Getting a new employee acquainted with the team also becomes more difficult.
Team Building & Work Culture
- Team spirit and work culture are the two defining characteristics of every company. While not outright impossible, working remotely poses challenges to team building as the employees are not able to interact and develop that comradery that only comes from being in each other’s physical presence.
Addressing the six dimensions of wellbeing
It is clear that the health of employees, whether it be physical, emotional, mental, etc. has a direct impact on the work they produce. As an employer it is crucial to be aware of how your employees may be struggling to adapt to the “new normal” and as an employee, it is key to know that there are some tricks out there to help you cope.
A healthy, engaged and productive work environment starts with conversations about people’s needs and the six dimensions of workplace wellbeing should be at the forefront of that conversation.
Dimension One: Vitality
Staying healthy requires more than just sleep and a balanced diet, we need exercise, safety, and support. When employees work from home they often neglect these necessities, compromising on things like desk space, meal options, noise levels, posture, etc.
- Build in time to move, stretch, change postures or do some chair yoga to get moving.
- Try to walk or pace during calls if possible – even get some fresh air.
- Establish clear time boundaries.
- Try to prepare meals to avoid unhealthy snacking.
Dimension Two: Mindfulness
Synonymous with meditation, mindfulness is much more than that. It’s about being attentive in the present moment, whether it’s listening closely to what someone is saying, or listening closely to your body’s needs and emotions. Practicing mindfulness helps us become more aware of what helps us feel better and can actually boost our moods and immune system.
- Try focusing on observing the details of what you are busy with.
- Concentrate on breathing slowly and taking the time to exhale.
- Set alarms to help you stick to task deadlines.
- Try to shake up your work routine to avoid yourself “autopiloting”.
Dimension Three: Authenticity
An increasing number of people want to be their most authentic selves today more than ever! However, for many, this new working arrangement might expose them more than they would like — video conferencing can feel suddenly too intimate.
- Try communicating in the chats first, if that goes well move on to the microphone and from there you may just feel more comfortable in front of the camera.
- Create a safe space where you won’t feel strange about having your colleagues look at the area behind you.
- Consider setting specific times that you can take meetings or video calls.
- Don’t feel bad if you feel too uncomfortable to take part in a video meeting – we’re sure our team will understand.
Dimension Four: Belonging
Human connection is a fundamental human need that has been drastically reduced due to increasing social distancing and isolation over time. Not only does this damage one’s sense of belonging by it affects daily informal interactions too.
- Try buffer in time between meetings to catch up with colleagues.
- Schedule virtual gatherings with coworkers to talk about anything except the office.
- Check in on your team to see how they’re doing – perhaps they feel just as isolated and could use a quick chat.
- Make time to go outside and greet a few strangers on the street to get back into the habit of regular social interaction.
Dimension Five: Meaning
Employees want to know that what they do matters, that their work is building towards someone. This can be difficult to see when working in isolation or when you aren’t able to physically see progress as a whole.
- Explore ways to visualize your work or make it more tangible such as creating a virtual board for monitoring tasks and progress for your projects.
- Make a list of what gives you the most job satisfaction and your motivators and put it where you’ll see it daily.
- List your accomplishments to see how far you’ve really come.
- Try a virtual catch up session to see how your work is fitting in with that of your colleagues.
Dimension Six: Optimism
It’s easy to feel helpless, anxious or pessimistic about any and all aspects of life at the moment.
It’s important not to give in to that sentiment, and remember we still have opportunities to make the most of the situation.
- Every day, note 3-5 things that you are grateful for.
- Reach out to someone else in need as helping others helps yourself.
- Try reading a daily motivational to start your day off on a positive note.
- Set a list of goals that you want to work towards and track your progress.
Brixx is a financial software company that helps businesses explore their future but we’re more than just a company! We’re a group of individuals just like you, employees and employers struggling to adapt to the “new normal”. It is key to focus on your own health as well as that of those around you as physical, emotional and mental wellbeing impacts each action we take – ultimately affecting your business. Employers and employees are discovering ways to adapt on a daily basis and luckily with the number of technological advancements out there, working remotely has never been more simple – it’s the “taking care of yourself” part that becomes tricky. Read more about Workplace Wellbeing on the Brixx Blog!
Our daily interactions are shown to reinforce our sense of well-being and belonging in a community. With millions being forced to work from home or remotely on a daily basis, mental health and workplace wellbeing has become one of the top focus areas for employers in 2021.
We’d love for you to take a look at our other posts relating to Workplace Wellbeing to continue this discussion but we’ll understand if you’re just too excited about Brixx to pass up on our 7 Day Free Trial!