Providing mental health support and encouraging check-ins and downtime can help organisations enhance the benefits of a remote work environment for employees.
The massive shift to working from home has been beneficial for many employees. In a recent ManpowerGroup Future of Work survey, 8 in 10 respondents stated they wanted more remote work options to better balance family life. The survey also revealed, however, some complexities which come with remote work, such as the inability to leave work at the office. Below we outline ways managers can accommodate working from home in a way that is beneficial and which promotes balance.
Create channels for communication
Working from home can feel isolating but adding more video calls to the workday isn’t necessarily the antidote. Instead, managers can provide less intrusive but more timely feedback mechanisms, which include pulse surveys, peer group support and Slack or Microsoft Teams-style collaboration.
Pay attention to mental health needs
There are a number of relaxation techniques that can lower stress, reduce the fight or flight response and help increase wellbeing for employees, from physical exercise to breathing practices. Organizations are providing help during these times with on-call counsellors and virtual health appointments.
As we approach winter, managers could also consider adjusting work hours to encourage remote workers to take advantage of the shorter daylight hours through longer lunch breaks in the middle of the day.
Help manage workloads
Organisations should understand who has additional obligations to care for children or parents, or family members that need attention. Globally, 40% of people say schedule flexibility is one of the top three factors when making career decisions, according to ManpowerGroup research. Managers can redistribute work to those who have capacity or offer additional deadline flexibility.
Remind employees to take leave
Taking time off – even at home – is just as crucial to employee balance today, maybe even more important than in “normal times.” Taking annual leave is a vital part of preventing burnout, maintaining job satisfaction and inspiring and motivating an employee’s best work. Overcommitment is counterproductive and managers should encourage employees to take their deserved time off.
Recognise generational differences
Organisations should know that there are generational differences in attitudes about working from home, with Gen Z and Boomers more eager to return to offices for networking or collaboration. For these workers, additional virtual communication can replicate opportunities. Millennials have been shown to enjoy working remotely the most, especially parents. For these workers, discussing long-term plans for maintaining balance and prioritising health will be important.
Ultimately, helping balance while working from home comes down to recognising and respecting boundaries, and communicating frequently. These guidelines can enhance the experience for everyone involved.