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How to support workplace wellbeing for remote employees

28 May 2021

Woman drinking coffee while working from home

Making sure your team stays connected

Remote work can be difficult to navigate at the best of times, but in this rapidly evolving digital work climate, it’s becoming the new norm – spurred on by the COVID-19 pandemic. For many, it’s a significant shift in workplace culture. As more businesses welcome permanent or flexible work from home arrangements, employees can now divide time between the office and home.

At nib, we’ve embraced flexible working arrangements company-wide while also supporting the wellbeing of our employees with other initiatives. This includes free health insurance and unlimited access to Tend’s GPs via the provider’s mobile app – so employees can see a doctor from the comfort of their own home.

With your employees working in different spaces, it’s certainly harder to oversee your team, and more importantly, know how they’re doing physically and mentally. Here are some ways you can continue to support your employees and help them stay connected remotely.

Have clear boundaries

Without physical barriers separating work and home, your employees may feel like they’re always in work mode. The existence of technology means that work is literally always at their fingertips, and remote workers may feel like they need to be always responsive to prove they are working hard and committed to their job.

While employees should be aware of how many hours they’re expected to work during any given week, it’s crucial that boundaries are established. Ensure that they have set working hours and are clear on when their workday starts and ends. Employees should also take regular annual leave to help reduce the risk of work-related stress, burnout and fatigue.

The nature of flexible working arrangements may mean that your employees don’t have fixed start and end of work times. One of the advantages to flexi-working is that it gives employees, particularly parents with young children, the opportunity to strike a better balance between personal time and work. By choosing their own schedule, they can get involved in activities they might not have had the capacity to do before.

Set realistic goals

Your employees may have the freedom to decide their work location, but they still need your guidance and direction. Avoid overloading them with responsibilities or placing excessive pressure on them to finish tasks in a short timeframe. In saying that, it’s important that expectations are set in order for your employees to feel as though they’re making a valuable contribution and stay productive.

Set specific and realistic goals together and establish an open line of communication so they can reach out if there’s any unexpected issues. By helping them prioritise tasks, you can ensure everyone is focused on the same outcome and that work is finished in a timely manner.

Performance management

If an employee’s performance starts to decline while working remotely, consider what the underlying factors may be. Be sure they have the tools, training and support they need to adjust. Having laptops with webcams, for example, will ensure they can fully participate in virtual meetings, and feel more connected and engaged with their team.

Think about the issues that could be impacting them in this new working environment. Employees who share their work from home space with their partner, family members or flatmates are bound to experience reduced productivity. Discuss your employees’ home situation with them in order to understand what could be affecting their performance, and help them figure out the best way forward in both the short and long term.

Communication is key

Your team is likely to be in regular contact with each other for work-related tasks, however, it’s vital they communicate on an informal basis too. Many of your employees may miss the social aspect of the office so ensure they have the equipment, platforms and opportunities to interact and work effectively with each other.

Online meetings can start to feel old after a while – your team may experience screen fatigue with the extra amount of time spent looking at their computers or phones. Shake up your meetings by organising virtual quizzes, webinars or workshops on various topics such as nutrition, mindfulness, meditation and sleep. Have Zoom-free days or host ‘walking meetings’ by calling on your phone, so you’re not only improving employee health, but also building creative thinking in your team.

Keep moving

In any work environment, staying active fosters productivity and can give you more energy throughout the day. Offer your employees online exercise classes. Everyone loves a challenge, so set up a competition to see who can be the most active or take the most steps each week.

Our virtual fitness challenges have been a success among our employees, and can also be available to your business if you sign up for nib health insurance. From step programmes to timed exercise goals, these initiatives have encouraged our team to keep active and connected – while adding a dash of good-natured competition!

Even though you may not be in the office, that doesn’t mean you should eliminate face-to-face interaction altogether. If you can, organise regular team catchups at a local lunch spot or a social event. Start a company sports team that meets after work. It’s not only a great way to keep in touch and be active, but also effective for team building.

Managing remote employees does come with its challenges. Regardless of the work environment, as managers, you have the responsibility of initiating and supporting workplace wellbeing – so, why not implement some of these tips among your team today.

If you’re interested in supporting your team to work remotely, chat to us today about nib health insurance with tailored health cover for your employees that includes hospital and everyday treatment and our digital wellness portal, MyHealthHQ.

Find out more here, give us a call on 0800 287 642 or email [email protected].