We have all had weeks during which we envision the perfect working environment as being a set up at home with convenient access to snacks, caffeine and maybe even a dash of cheeky daytime television viewing. There have been times for us all when someone mentions their remote status and we release a sigh of envy at their not having to venture out into the bitter wilderness (let’s face it, we are all that dramatic at 6am) before the sun has even risen. Is remote working or working from home all it’s cracked up to be?
Recent studies have shown that contrary to our own inherent bias about the joys of working from home workers who come in to the office at least once a week are in fact happier than those who work entirely remotely. Whilst flexible and remote working have obvious positive points for the employee, there are some issues that employers should be aware of in order to assist these workers in maintaining productivity and avoiding burnout and loneliness issues which can damage employee wellbeing on a number of levels.
Loneliness is an obvious issue with remote workers as they don’t have access to the conversations and personal daily interactions one has in an office environment. Remote workers can often feel entirely separate to the office environment and a bit cut off from this world. These workers miss out on the sense of community that comes from working in an office environment and also the bonds that result from daily interaction with others. Humans are social creatures by nature and thrive on interaction, when a worker receives no interaction for extended periods it can lead to times of depression.
The term ‘burnout’ is unfortunately one which is becoming increasingly common in recent years as workers begin to push themselves further and further in the pursuit of success. Burnout generally refers to employees pushing themselves to a point at which they can no longer function. It is said that this phenomenon is seen regularly in remote workers due to the fact that they can more easily stretch their working hours in a way that is not sustainable in the long term. Burnout is perhaps one of the worst things any employee can suffer as once the employee has fallen behind, this can become a negative cycle as they attempt to catch up.
So how can the employer best support remote workers and assist them in avoiding the pitfalls of burning out, and the deep loneliness that can result from the lack of daily interaction?
- Ensure that remote workers feel part of a larger community.
- Consider having a chat or video conference feature in which remote workers can interact with office workers for regular updates and to ask questions etc.
- Check in with remote workers regularly to ensure that they are ok.
- Offer a day in which remote workers are welcomed into the office for an office lunch or meeting.
- Engage in conversations with remote employees and colleagues that relate to issues outside of work, so that they feel that others have an interest in their lives similarly to how they would feel in an office environment.
- Ensure that remote workers are not keeping unsociable hours and that they have their standard non-work time.
The new flexibility of working hours that modern technology affords us is of course a positive, but it takes effort on both the sides of the employer and the employee to ensure that remote workers do not feel isolated from the rest of the company community.
As always, we here at EcovisDCA are available to assist should you have any queries on any business or financial matters. We look forward to hearing from you.