As the number of employees across the world working from home increases and UK employers joined Google and Amazon in restricting travel for its employees and requesting them for remote working, the British businesses should be prepared and brace themselves for a significant impact on employee wellbeing.
Remote working isn't a piece of cake and accessible! A recent global survey stated that a large number of remote workers struggled with issues like unplugging from their work (22%), loneliness (19%) and communicating (17%). Also, another study showed that 41% of the remote workers reported high-stress levels, as compared to their regular office-goers.
Jane Sparrow, business culture and remote working expert, stated, 'the first day or two of working from home can be quite fun – it's different, you don't have to get up as early, there's no morning commute. But then the reality sets in and it can become a real challenge for people. If you're used to seeing your colleagues or customers every day, feelings of isolation can creep in remarkably quickly. This new remote working environment can also affect focus, a sense of team and creativity. It's not something that is often talked about. Still, if we are to help our teams stay healthy, happy and ultimately productive, we have to recognize and manage the high-stress environment that remote working can create for many people.'
With many employees in the United Kingdom working from home and millions more expected to follow owing to the Coronavirus pandemic, the challenge falls on the businesses to keep their people positive, connected and productive during this stressful time. Jane Sparrow stated, 'There are so many benefits of remote working, for both people and business spanning wellbeing, productivity and the environment. A possible upside of this whole situation is that it may prove the case for more flexible working within companies who have been slow to adopt it. However, many leaders, teams and companies come at remote working assuming that people will do it well or adapt easily to it if it's new for them. The other thing we see a lot in businesses putting in a new or enhanced virtual working tool – and considering the job done.'
Tips for people working from home:
- Create a third place: Create a virtual third place and agree as a team how the person will behave there for virtual collaboration success. This will ensure the person remains productive.
- Ensure social continuity: When a person works remotely, the exchanges become more formal and task-focused. However, ensure you connect with loved ones socially through calls and messages to check on them. Also, make sure you engage in virtual check-ins at the beginning and end of the day to join connection.
- Adapt working structures: Remote working and office work is different; there may not be lengthy meetings. People can have short virtual huddles and apply them to team resourcing, scheduling and action planning.
- How are we feeling: Associate with teams to check on how they are doing. Have five minutes of a virtual meeting at the beginning of the day to greet appropriately and see how people are.
- Help people to manage distraction: Distractions lose the momentum of work when working remotely. Connect with leaders and talk openly with people to get feedback and tips about how they are managing their distractions. Specific break times are a good start!
- Energising – your way: Go out for snack breaks, walks and take mini breaks to stay energized. Energy resources are different for everyone, find yours and keep yourself energized during work.