Supporting the Wellbeing of Remote Employees
Up to 25% of the workforce in the U.K. are currently working exclusively from home. Millions more are working partly from home, partly in an office.
Working from home has many benefits. Greater levels of flexibility, a better work-life balance, improved productivity, no time spent commuting. It’s easy to see why even before we were in a pandemic, working-from-home (at least a few days a month) was an attractive option for employees.
The current working-from-home situation, however, has not come without its disadvantages. Employees are reporting higher levels of stress and anxiety. Stress and mental fatigue due to COVID-19 is at a record high.
However, it’s not only mental health that employers need to be focusing on. Working remotely can also impact an employee’s physical health. Supporting the wellbeing of remote employees is as important as supporting their mental health.
Supporting the Wellbeing of Remote Employees
Over 80% of Brits are not getting the NHS recommended levels of activity. It’s estimated that on average, people were spending over 7 hours each day sitting down.
These figures, pulled from Westfield Health’s Wellbeing Index, are pre-COVID figures. In the current pandemic, with more of us working from home, we are even more sedentary. Losing the incidental movement that going to work brings (such as walking to the bus stop) is having a significant impact on our daily activity levels.
Our overall physical wellbeing can dramatically impact our personal and professional lives. Physical activity can lead to improved levels of happiness and satisfaction. A lack of movement can lead to apathy, fatigue, depression, and more.
It’s clear that employers need to find ways to support the wellbeing of their remote employees. Here are a few creative ways to do just that.
Set Times Dedicated to Wellbeing
Many employees are working from home and video calls are the new normal. It can be all too easy to set back to back video calls, leaving a little time at the end of the day to cross off the action points from each video call. Not only is this mentally overwhelming, it can be physically detrimental too.
To help break up your employees’ days or weeks, set time that is dedicated to their wellbeing. These can be blocks of time, such as an hour, where employees are encouraged to do something for their own wellbeing. Things that you could encourage include:
- Going for a walk – Simply getting out of the house and into the fresh air for a brisk walk can have a profound impact on our mental and physical health.
- Listening to a podcast – Who doesn’t love getting stuck into a good podcast. Whether it’s the round up of this week’s entertainment news, or a meditative podcast, taking the time to just switch off is important.
- Meditating – Meditation can have many benefits. In periods of increased stress and anxiety, it can help restore a sense of calm and balance. Get started with this Meditation Guide from Mindful.
- Working Out – A dedicated time to wellbeing can be a great opportunity for employees to get their sweat on. Exercise has been shown to improve energy levels and boost productivity levels.
- Catching up on life admin – Washing up, laundry, changing the bed sheets. We all have daily “life-admin” tasks that we need to sort out.
Whatever your employees choose to do during this set period of well-being, it’s important to encourage them to take a break from the screen. You can also make this a great team-building opportunity. Why not set up a video call for after the wellbeing session? Find out who did what. Encourage employees to share their experiences and / or recommendations.
Encourage Good At-Home Ergonomics
Many of us are working on a laptop. Laptops made the idea of remote working much easier. A portable computer allowed us to move around the office. It made it easier for us to ‘bring our work home.’
In our current work from home reality, laptops allow employees to move around their house to work. Kitchen tables have doubled as work stations. Living room couches have housed many a Zoom meeting.
This flexibility, however, comes with added risks. Nuffield Health carried out a survey during lockdown. In the survey, they found:
- 25% of employees were working from their sofa
- 25% of employees were working from their bed
- 17% were sitting on the floor and working
Unfortunately, this is having physical implications on the workforce. As the survey notes: “Seven in 10 Brits currently working from home (70%) say they are experiencing more aches and pains in the back, neck, shoulders, legs and joints, more problems with eye strain, and more headaches than usual when working from home. Worryingly this is leading some (13%) to take more painkillers than they normally would to ease aching muscles.”
Employers can help mitigate these risks by providing employees with sufficient information about ergonomics. Mayo Clinic has put together a how-to guide for office ergonomics. Ensure you’re checking in with your employee’s ergonomic wellbeing.
People working at a desk are estimated to spend up to 75% of their time sitting down. And this was in a pre-pandemic workplace!
Sitting for prolonged periods of time can cause a variety of health issues. These can include:
- Increased risk of heart disease
- Increased risk of diabetes
- Poor mental health
- Increased muscular problems
The traditional office environment provides a surprising number of opportunities for us to get up and move. Walking to meetings, having coffee breaks, walking to the printer. They all get us up and moving. In a home office, these opportunities are few and far between.
Employers can help to encourage movement in a number of ways. Here are 15 simple stretches that can help get your workforce moving and improve their wellbeing.
Many conversations at the moment are focused on how employers can support the mental health of their remote employees. However, equally important is supporting their physical wellbeing.
Hug can help you support your workforce and provide insightful analysis of your employee wellbeing. Using the data from hug, you can build a happier, healthier, more productive workplace. Interested in finding out how hug can help you support your remote employees’ mental health? Please click here to request your demo today.