The pandemic era is still on the move, and remote work or WFH (Work from Home) has taken a crucial place in businesses. Around 16% of companies globally are working entirely remotely now.
Perhaps, this work structure has dramatically changed how business managers and teams used to work- offering freedom and flexibility to employees. But on the other hand, working remotely can be quite stressful now more than ever. As a result, employers need to ensure that their employees are not just working but thriving.
Though managing the stress and emotions of employees when working remotely sounds easy, without a proper understanding of the processes and techniques, it can be a daunting task. As a result, your business will not only suffer from lower productivity, but you may also lose competent employees.
How remote working can increase stress among employees
Most employees undergo work stress, especially remote workers, since COVID-19. An increase in work stress can impact one’s mental health and even lead to anxiety and depression. With the introduction of WFH and hybrid work styles by several organizations, it has become imperative to help employees manage stress for employee engagement and efficiency. Some of the reasons that could lead to workplace stress include:
- Work from home burnout
It is natural for certain employees to overwork themselves due to the flexibility of working from home. This could also be to show their commitment as no one is watching your progress closely, like working from the office. Burnouts can occur gradually but can exhaust one entirely, lead to unhappiness, and severely impact their mental health.
- Limited resources
Another common reason for stress amongst remote employees is caused due to limited or lack of adequate resources for completing tasks. This could lead to spending too much time and effort on completing tasks or projects that could be completed on time with more resources.
- Social interaction
With remote work comes limited social interaction with your peers. Therefore, maintaining a certain amount of interaction and socialization with your colleagues and others is essential. Lack of social interaction can lead to a feeling of isolation, especially if one enjoys working in a busy environment.
Other reasons for stress could also include personal and health issues such as the constant feeling of exhaustion, headaches, etc. Employees may also face technical difficulties caused due to inefficient work from home setups such as poor network or WiFi, slow systems, etc.
How to help remote employees manage stress at work and improve effectiveness and efficiency?
Organizations can help remote employees manage stress through simple routine changes and recognize the importance of mental health by providing the workforce with adequate support and resources to maintain a stress-free work environment while improving productivity. Let’s look at some of the ways in which organizations like yours can assist employees working remotely and manage workplace stress to improve their effectiveness and efficiency.
Create a Virtual Break Room of Activities and Games
When employees go through tough times, especially when they’re working remotely, they’re expected to experience burnout. However, as an employee or a team leader, it’s your responsibility to handle such situations professionally.
Since you won’t be able to create a fun environment or stress-free activities in the office, you can take the initiative to develop a virtual break room. Using this room, you can encourage your employees to look after themselves. An online meditation workshop or session will be a great start. You can also create activities or play stress-free games during this session.
Remember to spare some time and create space to talk about employees’ hobbies, current news, or other interesting topics to make them feel connected and involved to relieve stress. These non-working interactions help a lot during tough times.
There are other great ways to improve their effectiveness and efficiency while managing stress, such as fitness challenges. Physical fitness is said to be one of the best ways to minimize stress and enhance productivity. You can even follow multiple proven techniques to boost productivity even while working from home or remotely.
Being a leader, you can set up weekly and monthly fitness challenges. By undertaking these challenges, your co-workers will be able to give valuable time to themselves, making their tough times a bit easier.
And don’t forget to reward them! Rewarding them, when needed, will show that, being an employer or a leader, you value them and their contributions to the success of the project or organization. In return, they’re motivated to continue working well for you and the organization.
Create Hyper-organized Teams
According to the latest Starbucks Corporation research, it is seen that larger-sized teams tend to be less organized and create chaos and confusion regarding work. As a result, it impacts productivity and restricts the efficiency of the employee and team as a whole. Hence, a better way of dealing with this is to create smaller teams within one large team.
Once the teams are segregated based on the projects, they can perform better and work effectively. In addition, they will be more organized and could work with fewer dependencies on approvals or reverts, thus lowering stress levels.
You can also develop open training sessions for your team. That will allow them to communicate better and be more aware of their stress level, how to cope with it, and what triggers their stress. The more self-aware your employee or team is about their behavior, the better they’ll be able to cope with their interpersonal issues as they arise.
Be There to Listen to Your Employees
Long-term exhaustion, lack of direction, being stuck in the approval loop, and poor communication are some of the concerns that arise when working remotely. All these concerns either boost your stress level or lead to stress. Hence, what would be an ideal solution to overcome these issues?
It's simple- being an employer or leader, you must always be available when your team needs you. When you're not accessible to your team or employees, they can feel lost. This, in return, impacts their work efficiency as they are left hanging and waiting to connect with you.
When dealing with such a situation, creating a remote work welfare policy for your organization that clearly demonstrates the proper protocols, mediums, and etiquette of team communication is better. Once this framework is set up, make sure everyone in your organization, including you, follows the same.
Managing employees remotely doesn't mean your duty is done after you've assigned tasks. Working remotely means you have to be there when your team members need you. Without your guidance, their performance might not improve.
You can also use modern technology, such as QR codes, to collect feedback for the overall improvement of the workplace by directing the employees to a feedback form where they can share their opinions on different issues. Remember to use the best QR code generator out there, and these QR codes are quick and easy to create using the right QR code generator.
Trust Your Remote Employees
The working mechanics of the in-office team doesn’t fit when working completely remote. You might feel the need to keep your eyes on your team and check whether they’re working or not and how well they’re performing. However, that’s the mistake you don’t want to make as an employer, as you’re clearly telling them you don’t trust them.
For your team to deliver their best, you must trust them. You’ve managed to hire the right people for your business that fit the job position based on your criteria. Hence, they should be qualified and skilled to perform their tasks.
Checking on them constantly might impact their performance. When you show you trust them, the chances are higher that they’ll deliver better outcomes. Unless you find some strong evidence showing that they cannot work without constant oversight, you have no reason to doubt them.
Additionally, offering the right tools and equipment to your remote team will allow them to work efficiently.
Review Work Plans with Your Remote Employees
When dealing with the stress of remotely working employees, it’s crucial to constantly talk to them about the long-term and short-term work plans that your organization needs to achieve. It shouldn’t be left and forgotten- instead, it should be regularly discussed and reviewed with your employees.
This serves your employees to stay focused on your organization’s objectives and work effectively. However, they can get misaligned when they’re unsure about the work plans or deliverables and feel separated from others.
Further, you also need to consider employees' perspectives, as their viewpoint is essential. When they feel unheard, they might perform inefficiently. Also, if the reviewing concerns are not appropriately addressed, the social component of working together as a team will be affected.
Provide Flexible Work Schedules to Your Remote Employees
A significant reason employees enjoy remote work or work from home is that they can work conveniently at their schedules. Offering flexibility or bringing the art of asynchronous communication to your remote employees allows them to work in peace and gives them a sense of independence. This way, they’re able to deliver better.
When they are allowed to work on their terms, their stress level decreases. Hence, their emotional state becomes stable.
If they’re bound to work for a definite time and fixed hours, they can feel restricted as they won’t be able to manage their personal tasks.
Flexibility in work is a must during tough times. Moreover, employers should conduct fun activities, have hangout meetings, or have online games to make the work fun-loving and reduce boredom. Doing so will nurture employee creativity and will ultimately boost their performance.
Organizations can ramp up employee productivity considerably compared to traditional offices working physically by using the right measures.
Listening to your employees is essential, and so is motivating them to perform better. It could be through various recreational activities from time to time to keep their minds fresh, interesting contests to inculcate the feeling of competitiveness, and other rewarding systems.
Jyesht is a content marketer and a marketing enthusiast. He is an ardent follower of marketing tech and tools that make everyday marketing fun and intriguing. He is a passionate traveller who likes to explore new places, meet new people and try new foods.