Even as the effects of the covid-19 pandemic start to slowly subside, remote working appears to be here to stay. Both workers and employers are appreciating the benefits of a remote workforce and adapting to the new normal of working from home. As the working landscape changes, we all have a responsibility to change with it. That means taking steps to ensure that your workers are safe and healthy even as they work from their homes. It can be difficult to manage from a distance, but it’s certainly not impossible. Here are a few tips you can use to ensure the health and safety of your remote workers.
Provide Proper Equipment
Working in an office may not be as hard on your body as physical labor, but that doesn’t mean it’s completely without risk. Spending all day sitting at a computer can contribute to several potentially serious conditions, including back pain, stiffness, and carpal tunnel syndrome. Workplaces will often take steps to avoid these issues by purchasing ergonomic keyboards, chairs that promote proper posture, and other equipment to keep their employees healthy and comfortable. However, if your workers are doing their jobs remotely, the equipment they use can vary pretty wildly. Encourage your employees to use ergonomic chairs, adjustable desks, and any other pieces of equipment that provide more comfort than just sitting in bed or on the couch. You can also provide some equipment through the company. Even just an adjustable laptop stand or chair pad can make a huge difference in the comfort and health of your employees.
Encourage Healthy Habits
Your employees can be sitting in the world’s healthiest and most comfortable chairs and it still won’t make a difference if they’re sitting still for eight hours a day. The negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle can be serious and wide-ranging, including obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and other conditions. It can be easy for someone to get caught up in sedentary habits, especially if they’re alone working from home. Try encouraging healthier habits to your employees, like daily walks and exercise. You can provide incentives through the company, like holding weekly competitions to see who can walk the most steps. Not only is that a great way to encourage physical movement, but it’s also a social experience that brings your employees together. The human body wasn’t meant to be sitting at a desk all day, every day, so anything you can do to get your workers up and moving is going to be huge for their physical health.
Keep an Eye Out for Burnout
Employee burnout is a major concern for many remote employees, even as the lockdown restrictions of the pandemic start to subside. Working from home has a ton of advantages for both employees and employers, but social isolation can be a struggle for a lot of people. Working alone at home every day can leave your team feeling like they’re in a rut, and can lead to serious burnout. It can sometimes be difficult to spot, especially from a distance, so try to pay close attention to the symptoms of burnout. Keep an eye out for anyone who appears to be in a constant state of exhaustion, seems unable to concentrate, or starts to make frequent and uncharacteristic mistakes. Many symptoms of burnout mirror the signs of depression, so also look out for workers who are withdrawing socially, or seem especially disengaged from what they’re doing. If you think any members of your team are suffering from burnout, try reaching out. You may need to switch up their routine or lighten their workload until they’re able to get back on track, but any temporary loss of productivity will be worth it when your employees are feeling comfortable and motivated again.
Reach Out and Show You Care
The isolation of a remote workplace can lead your employees to feel disengaged or disconnected from their bosses and co-workers, so it’s worth making an effort to stay connected and make sure they know you care about their wellbeing. Make a point of asking about everybody during remote meetings, and stay in close contact with your workers throughout the week. If you’re having some trouble keeping them motivated, try hosting webinars with motivational speakers or other fun activities. A good speaker can do wonders for your team’s motivation and enthusiasm, so don’t be afraid to bring in some outside help. Not only is a happy employee a more productive employee, but they’re also more willing to come to you with concerns or questions, making you a more effective manager.
Manage Your Expectations and Leadership Style
As you adapt your management style to the remote work landscape, one of the most important things you can keep in mind is that it’s not only you who’s having to adapt. This is all pretty new to your employees as well, and many of them are struggling to adapt as well. It’s important to have patience with your workers as they get used to working from home, and make sure that you’re giving them the support they need. Try revisiting your management style and ask yourself some questions. Have you been communicating as clearly and effectively as you need to? When everybody is working from home, clear and open communication is more important than ever before. Also, ask yourself if you’ve been as present and as supportive as you need to be. In a remote working environment, you need to be more willing to reach out and make sure your workers know you’re available since they can’t just visit your office if they need anything. Make sure your phone is turned on and you’re responding to emails as well.
The truth is, everyone is still trying to figure out what does and doesn’t work in a remote workplace. Ultimately, the most important thing you can bring to the table is a willingness to learn and adapt your management style, even if it takes a few false starts. Every step in the right direction counts.