More people than ever before are working from home. If your employees were used to coming into the office every day, telecommuting could be a big adjustment. While it’s convenient and shortens the daily commute to just a few steps, working from home also blurs the line between the work day and personal time. As a business owner or manager, there’s still a lot you can do to support your work-at-home employees’ well-being and help them make the adjustment to the home office. Here are five ways to maintain a healthy workplace environment for your remote employees.
1. Create a Virtual Water Cooler
Many workplace comedies make sport of annoying co-workers — yet the office can be a satisfying source of camaraderie. Facilitate online employee interaction with such tools as video meetings and text-based chat rooms. In this age of electronic surveillance, respect your employees’ virtual café space. Employees need a place where they can freely speak their minds.
2. Keep Everyone in the Loop
Teleworkers can’t just stroll over to their colleagues’ cubicles to get a quick answer to a critical question. While fewer interruptions can boost productivity for work-at-home employees, the physical separation can lead to feelings of isolation. Chat and messenger apps can keep remote coworkers connected. Workplace collaboration tools such as Slack, Asana or ClickUp organize workloads while eliminating the stress of email inbox overflow.
3. Lend an Ear
Schedule a weekly video chat with each of your employees to discuss their workplace concerns individually. Remind all workers about available support resources, such as employee assistance programs. Addressing both work-related and personal issues, employee assistance programs provide a safe and private way to help employees cope with stressful circumstances.
4. Encourage Time Off
Due to the stigma traditionally associated with teleworking, many remote employees work longer hours to prove that they are just as productive as their counterparts in the office. They are sometimes reluctant to request leave. Managers can help counteract this stigma by taking time off for themselves on a regular basis — demonstrating that a scheduled day off is not only permissible, but beneficial.
5. Build Team Spirit With Physical Fitness, Philanthropy and Fun
Physical fitness alleviates stress and improves both physical and mental health. Charitable giving bolsters personal fulfillment. In place of your office’s semi-annual 1K Fun Run for Charity, encourage remote workers to use an app such as Charity Miles to keep fit as they give back to others. Consider pledging matching donations to spur on their efforts. Sponsor contests with prizes for the most steps walked or the longest jump-rope doubles streak. Along with physical exercise, promote mental fitness with brainteasers and entertaining quizzes.
As an employer, there are many ways you can contribute to worker satisfaction and well-being. Some traditional morale-boosters may need to be adapted to the new realities of a distributed workforce. With genuine commitment and a variety of strategies, you can foster healthy, positive workplace experiences for all of your work-from-home employees.