How to effectively manage employee wellbeing remotely

A quick summary:

In the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, many employers have permanently turned to hybrid and remote working models. This sudden shift hasn’t been without its flaws, however, as managers and leaders alike struggle to affect employee wellbeing from a distance. The question a lot of HR professionals now have is “how do I effectively manage wellbeing at work… from home?”

As we come out the other end of a global pandemic, employees are either returning to the office on a full-time or hybrid basis or are working remotely. 👨‍💻

While these first two working arrangements allow for the flexibility and social element of an office, some remote-first employees have been subject to intense isolation and loneliness. 

Despite less commuting, more flexibility, and fewer costs involved in working from an office, remote work doesn’t come without its faults. 💸

Yet, with the right knowledge, leaders can take back control of healthy employee wellbeing, whether teams are at their desks or not. 🙌

Below, we’ve discussed the kind of negative repercussions working remotely has on people, along with the best management practices for leaders to help boost employee wellbeing. 

The negative impacts of remote work on employee wellbeing

Remote work is often viewed as easy and effortless to those who haven’t done it. Despite this misconception, the isolation, loneliness and ‘always-on’ mode can be detrimental to our health and wellbeing. 🏥

Isolation and loneliness

Starting with quite possibly the most common consequence of remote work; isolation and loneliness. The lack of face-to-face communication, work collaboration and social elements that take place in the office simply don’t exist in the comfort of our homes. 🏠

Unsurprisingly, 19% of employees feel loneliness is the biggest challenge when it comes to working remotely, according to Review42’s article

This large portion of workers suggests more needs to be done to create a remote environment of togetherness. Understandably, this isn’t easy to achieve, but it isn’t impossible. 💪

For example, here at Heka, we wrap up work early on Wednesdays and the team joins in on a team building social call to end the day. Despite their simplicity, these definitely help bring the team closer together while working remotely. 

Unfortunately, isolation and loneliness will remain the biggest challenges and setbacks when it comes to remote work. And if your team has expressed feelings of isolation, it could be a good sign to consider a hybrid working model. 🤔

Isolation and loneliness can be the beginning of an emotional slope for your team, and this will drive business productivity and performance down. 📉

Blurred boundaries between work and personal life

Next on the list is the ‘always-on’ mindset a lot of us get stuck in while working remotely. Once upon a time, offices were for working, and home was for everything else that goes on in our lives. 

Fast forward to today, and the boundaries between work and home have begun to blur, mainly due to the rise in remote work. Yet, despite some of us being unable to close our laptops and shut off the world, it doesn’t make us more productive. 

In fact, around 69% of employees working remotely are experiencing some symptoms of burnout. This is an extremely high percentage, and should act as a wake up call to those working excessively. 👀

Believe it or not, it is the responsibility of both leaders and employees to separate work commitments and home life. For leaders, they must instill a positive culture, and one that puts employee wellbeing first. For employees, they should look at their daily habits as an insight into improving their work-life balance. 

Distraction riddled environment 

Last but very much not least, working remotely prompts a distraction riddled environment. Whether that’s looking after children, while trying to reply to hundreds of emails, or trying to share the same space as a relative or spouse who also works remotely. 

Although managing other aspects of your life during traditional “office hours” is a definite benefit of remote working, it can become a challenge at times, and can make the office suddenly seem like a haven for producing our best work. Unlike the office, our households creat a lot of noise during the day; the kettle boils, the washing machine rumbles and our pets are constantly hovering around us for attention. 🐶

Moving on to how to better manage employee wellbeing remotely, here’s our top four ideas below for leaders to consider. 

Add 1-2-1 wellbeing meetings to your calendar 🗓

This may come as a shock to some, but checking in with your team members simply to ask how they are feeling isn’t reserved for the office! In fact, this is one of the most effective techniques to manage employee wellbeing while working remotely. 

Due to the loneliness and isolation working from home entails, asking some of the following questions to your team members now and again during a 30 minute call each week can help massively… 📋

  1. How have you been feeling leading up to our first remote wellbeing meeting?
  2. How have you been feeling this past week at home?
  3. What three words describe your common emotional state during work?
  4. What are your energy levels like after a day working remotely?
  5. Do you find yourself struggling with a healthy sleeping pattern while working from home?
  6. Have you ever felt upset after work?

It’s these kinds of questions leaders should be asking themselves and their employees to improve wellbeing while working remotely. If creating healthier, happier employees is important to leaders, understanding the problems and areas for improvement should be the first step in managing remote employee wellbeing. 💚

Consider an employee wellbeing platform

On top of regular virtual check-ins with your team members, an employee wellbeing platform like Heka for example, is a great addition to managing remote work. With Heka, companies are able to offer their employees over a thousand wellbeing experiences, products and services, regardless of where they are in the U.K. 📍

For example, if you have a yoga loving sales executive living in the North East of England, but your company is based in Devon, no need to worry! There are a ton of in-person and virtual yoga, fitness and holistic health classes on Heka. 🧘‍♀️

An employee wellbeing platform might be the missing piece to your company needs for a robust employee wellbeing programme and employee benefits package. 🚀

Create a people-driven remote work culture

People need to be at the forefront of any business, whether they work from the office or at home. In fact, creating a people-driven culture is even more important in remote organisations, as a sense of belonging and togetherness is much harder to create working remotely. 💻

What’s more, companies who once had a strong and clear culture have seen it fade away in the months of working from home. For these businesses, it’s about how they react, and the kind of activities, ideas and solutions they come up with to rekindle this positive work culture - despite working from home.

In other instances, organisational culture can grow toxic even with the distance between team members. If, as a leader, you’ve seen much more conflict between employees and managers, and believe there’s a degree of unhappiness and hostility, something must be done immediately to improve employee wellbeing. 

Ultimately, it’s a combination of improving the negative impacts of remote work and taking onboard an employee wellbeing platform, while hosting 1-2-1 wellbeing meetings that will reintroduce a totally new culture.

Be empathetic and compassionate of employees

Finally, as pandemic turns to an endemic, it’s still worth considering the rollercoaster two years a lot of people have been through. In most cases, people have been forced to begin working from home, and are still getting used to a new way of working. 

Remote working isn’t for everyone, and so leaders should remain empathetic and compassionate about the feelings and thoughts of its team. If you’ve assessed employee wellbeing based on all the above points, this particular one will help you decide whether to return to a permanent office-based team, or perhaps a hybrid model. 

Whatever happens, you should listen to your employees carefully, and truly understand how to create better working environments/conditions for them to thrive. After all, it’s people who push your business forward, and if a large majority are struggling emotionally with remote work, something must change. 

Building healthier, happier team remotely with Heka 🤝

Whether you work from home or from an office, Heka helps teams of all shapes and sizes. Through Heka, employees have access to thousands of wellbeing experiences, products and services. In fact, there’s a wide choice for virtual events and products delivered straight to your door. 🎁

What’s available through Heka? 👀

Pretty much everything you could imagine when it comes to health and wellbeing! From life-coaching, mental health therapy, candle-making kits, financial consultations, yoga classes, gong bathing sessions and so much more - there really is something for everyone in your team. 

Start improving employee wellbeing today for both remote and in-office teams with Heka! If you’d like to find out more about the benefits of Heka for your employees, book a demo with our wellbeing experts.