By Charity Kilbourn – Sr. Content Leader, ACTN Strategies LLC
For many companies, implementing remote work means leadership and employees have a more flexible schedule and have eliminated arduous commutes into the office. However, it can also mean a decrease in mental wellness if organizations don’t have a support system in place to help employees transition and evolve. Let’s look at a few common issues and how they can be addressed.
Isolation and Loneliness
Some employees prefer to work collaboratively and rely on that dynamic to boost creativity and challenge themselves. For these individuals, working remotely can amplify feelings of loneliness and isolation.
The American Psychiatric Association advises leaders to make regular check-ins with their teams a priority. They also suggest keeping an eye out for changes in behavior and productivity because it can signal that the employee is struggling.
Leadership should also make mental health resources readily available to their employees and consider scheduling virtual water cooler times for employees to connect and collaborate outside of structured meetings.
Leaders who are not accustomed to managing a remote team may tend to distrust their remote employees. Fearing a drop in productivity, many try to micromanage their way around the situation. This usually causes more harm than good and can create an environment rife with resentment and discontent.
Instead, leaders must work towards building trust with their employees. Asking employees what they need in order to succeed while setting up clear expectations and accountability can foster a healthier and more productive dynamic.
In many cases, working remotely completely eliminates the divisions between work and home life. When you work in an office environment, leaving to drive home usually means the workday is over. However, it is easy for work and home to blend together when you work remotely, causing burnout in employees and leaders alike.
Leadership can play a pivotal role in preventing burnout among their employees just by setting a good example. Avoid sending texts, emails, and instant messages outside of work hours, and advise managers and employees from doing the same. Encourage or even schedule breaks and use your “out of office” email and collaboration tool settings to let others know it’s okay to do so as well.
Employee assistance programs and supplemental training on remote work best practices can also help to maintain mental health among remote workers. With the proper tools and practices in place, organizations can build a solid, happy, and productive remote workforce.
Stay tuned for our ongoing series on remote work. Up Next – Remote Work Series Part 4: Pandemic Personal Wellness Strategies.