The idea of remote working has now been fully embraced, thanks to the onslaught of the pandemic and its effects that followed. This has made the idea of working from home for the foreseeable future an accepted norm.
With the adoption of remote work from home being quite sudden, it did not give people the time to ease into it. This has left many remote employees and remote workers vulnerable to the impact of issues such as mental & physical health, and prolonged self-isolation.
For managers and business leaders that are leading remote teams in these difficult times, it is important for them to protect their own mental wellbeing as well as that of their teams.
Just like the workers of any job, remote workers too battle the stresses of their respective jobs. But with the pandemic also having people fearing for the personal safety of themselves and their loved ones, it has taken an additional toll on them.
Remote workers today are under increasing levels of stress not just due to their jobs, but also due to the situations around them brought on by the pandemic. This makes it doubly necessary for them to look after their own well-being if they have to be any level of productive and give their best to their work.
The wellness of their employees has become a growing concern for most businesses these days. Recent figures show that businesses in the US lose millions of workers every year due to the stress and anxiety brought on by their jobs.
And if you lead remote teams, whether they work remote fully or partially, then it is fair to think about how the organization intends to establish and promote good practices for the mental health and well-being of your teams.
Creating the right wellness programs for remote employees
The extensive adoption of remote work as a response to the effects of the Covid 19 pandemic has pretty much revolutionized how and where we all work. These changes have created new challenges and opportunities, particularly in wellness programs.
When done right, remote work can in fact be good for the health of many employees. According to a survey by Paychex, it found that remote employees were at least 15% more likely than their office counterparts to feel healthier mentally due to their work environment.
But this is dependent on giving them the right tool and environment to maintain good mental health and well-being practices.
A wellness program optimized for remote teams can help them deliver on their full potential.
Optimize your corporate wellness programs for remote delivery
Virtual wellness programs are a great way to help your employees with their mental health when they are working from home. They are cost-effective and are easily accessible to your remote teams, irrespective of where they are working from.
It is wise to keep the program offerings to a shorter schedule and organize them during the workday so that they don’t feel obligated to take part in the program from their personal time.
It is important to regularly communicate about the wellness program and their need to look after their mental and physical well-being. Frequently highlighting the resources available to them enables them to actually end up using the said resources.
Challenges to creating a successful wellness program for remote teams
The challenges are mostly logistical and administrative. Because of the nature of remote teams, it would be difficult to get everyone at the same time to conduct a wellness workshop or session.
A big component that helps any employee wellness programs succeed is the support that one gets from their colleagues to pursue their wellness and mental health goals. With social interaction in remote teams being lesser than if it were in an office environment, group support might be hard to come by.
Team activities and hangouts for wellness purposes need meticulous planning and scheduling, and there will be times when it just might not happen.
Things you need for a remote employee wellness program
Create a toolkit for mental health & wellness
List out and curate a bunch of resources on how your remote teams can look after their mental well-being. These could be links to trusted platforms/sources of mental health advice, information guides, helpline numbers, support groups, and more.
Give them access to counseling assistance
Counselling has a very positive advantage on a person’s mental well-being and how they process issues related to their mental health. It gives them a healthy way to discuss the issues they might be facing, and get proper advice on how to manage these issues.
Encourage your teams to take time off
Sometimes, all it takes is some time off from work to get a reset. Mental health days are becoming increasingly acceptable at the workplace and you should encourage your teams to take time off when they need it. Irrespective of how they spend their time off, it allows your remote employees to reclaim their mental health. After a break, they are recharged and can be more productive in the work they do.
Set up virtual community gatherings and conversations
Connecting with other people is always good for one’s mental health. It helps them create and maintain healthy interpersonal bonds. Especially with the pandemic, people no longer physically interact with others as much as they used to.
Virtual gatherings and conversations with colleagues help remote employees maintain a good relationship with each other. People can talk about their interests, hobbies, or just about anything else that they want to. Having an outlet for such conversations plays a great role in the upkeep of their mental wellbeing.
Use team-based activities for wellness
It’s important to engage your remote employees together, not just individually. There are wellness activities and challenges that they can take up and complete together.
There could be activities where they compete against each other, or work in groups to achieve a goal. This not only helps in team bonding but also in helping them with their mental health and wellness.
Participating with other teammates allows remote workers to mingle and communicate with their colleagues. While they may not be physically in the same place or face-to-face, they can still see, talk, and chat with each other. They can use this communication to encourage and push each other for better mental health.