5 min read | 24 February, 2021 By Andy Stewart
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5 min read | 24 February, 2021 By Andy Stewart
Working from home comes with a great range of benefits, from improved productivity to making savings on costly commutes. It can even reduce your carbon footprint. However, some employees will struggle to make the transition and their physical or emotional wellbeing could suffer.
Learn how working from home can affect your employee’s wellbeing and what structures you can be put in place to help improve it.
Those working from home can sometimes find it difficult to manage their wellbeing. Many find that being removed from the office can lead to feelings of isolation and a struggle to balance work and personal life.
To start with, your employees may start to experience loneliness and isolation when separated from their colleagues—many of whom they may consider friends.
The office environment, although full of distractions, provides a great place to communicate, socialise and feel connected with those around us. Extroverts in particular thrive in an office setting, where they can feel energised by the hubbub around them.
It’s important to tackle feelings of loneliness and isolation as they can cause an increase in stress levels, leading to disengagement from their work. Ultimately this will negatively affect an employee’s performance, which could impact your business too.
To help combat your employees’ isolation and loneliness, it’s important to keep close contact with individuals you feel are at risk. These employees will likely feel it the most when working from home—especially if they are not supported correctly.
Even with the best intentions of maintaining a positive work-life balance, employees may find this challenging. Many home workers find that, all too easily, their work life merges into their personal life.
Employees working from home may, for example, find that they are working longer hours. An hour here and there quickly adds up to an extra day in a week or fortnight over the course of a month. Not ideal.
These added hours, and the lack of balance that comes with it, can lead to employees not being able to ‘switch off’. This inability to switch off from work can lead to higher levels of stress and eventually, burnout.
Once burnt out, your employees' work will suffer as they struggle to find the motivation to engage in their usual day-to-day tasks.
This is why keeping an eye on your employees’ wellbeing whilst they work from home is important. With the right approach, you can avoid these issues damaging your workers, and your business.
To help prevent your employees feeling isolated and burnt out while working from home, it’s best to put a clear working from home structure in place.
Start by communicating these tips with your employees. Some of them may seem obvious, but sometimes just being aware of solutions can help your employees look after their wellbeing while working from home.
Tell you employees to create a dedicated workspace. Explain that they should find a place that's free from distraction. As much as possible, it should be a workplace that they would be happy in at an office. This will help them focus while working. Plus, it’s a great way to help separate work and home.
Ensure they get comfortable in their new workspace, but not too comfortable. Avoid the sofa and the bed at all costs. A proper office set up can help their mind fully focus on the task at hand.
Having a dedicated workspace to go to in the morning and leave in the afternoon can help create a clear distinction between work life and personal life. Once they leave that space, they know they’re no longer working from home—they’re just at home.
Recommend that they create a steady routine and stick to it. Easier said than done, we know, but a routine can make the lines between work and their personal life much clearer.
They could achieve this by simply getting up, eating breakfast and getting ready for work at the same time every day. If they are used to a commute, suggesting they go for a morning walk or some exercise is also a good idea.
Set boundaries too. At the end of the day, employees should consider just shutting everything down. This means no more checking emails or doing ad hoc bits of work. Instead, they can focus on their home life.
Setting boundaries also applies to those your employees live with. Tell them to communicate to their family, partner or housemate of their workspace needs. Remind them that they are still at work and need quiet and space to focus.
To tackle the isolation that can come with working from home, remind your employees to try and keep in regular contact with colleagues, friends and family.
At work, try to organise face-to-face meetings rather than emailing. You could also suggest your employees arrange social activities with their friends and family to help break up their week. This doesn’t have to be drinks or a sit-down meal. Explain that simply making time for a walk, or even a virtual get together can help bring them closer together.
Making time for those who matter can help boost our own mental wellbeing, and even those we contact.
Being kind to yourself often gets overlooked. Working from home can encourage people to believe that they have to constantly go the extra mile because they are not ‘seen’ to be doing things. They should never feel like this.
Instead, tell your employees to be realistic about what's achievable in the work hours set out in their contract and dedicate time to relaxing once they’re done.
Make sure your company has a wellness action plan. A wellness action plan is a practical tool your company can use to help identify what keeps them mentally healthy at work—and what makes you unwell.
By encouraging your staff to create wellness action plans you can open a dialogue that will help put in the practical steps that ensure your workforce feels great.
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