How to help your employees thrive as remote workers
By Loren Davies, IQbusiness Senior People Advisory Principal Consultant
A lot can be said about 2020, but one of its most defining features is how well we’ve been able to adapt to the ‘Now Normal’. Businesses worldwide have implemented remote working, allowing employees to work from the comfort and safety of their own homes.
However, the process hasn’t always been so streamlined, and while productivity remains constant and it’s preserved job security, it’s also presented a lot of challenges. According to The Now Normal Survey Report conducted by IQbusiness, it’s essential that business leaders take responsibility for adhering to wellness guidelines, especially around team working agreements or social contracts.
The report argues that in order for companies to continue to effectively service their customers, they first need to support and enable their employees. The sustainable approach to working remotely can only be achieved through focused leadership interventions, where the mental and physical wellbeing of their people are prioritised.
To achieve this, the report states that organisations need to cultivate space and time for innovation where employees feel psychologically and emotionally safe so they can collaborate and pursue new ideas. This “intellectual safe harbour” encourages unfamiliar perspectives and approaches in response to, or in anticipation of, volatile circumstances.
Overall, respondents felt generally positive in how their employers approached remote working arrangements: 60,2% felt completely enabled, while 18,3% stressed that more can be done on their company’s part to help maintain or improve the culture among employees.
This raises the question: what can business leaders do to empower people to not only improve their productivity, but ensure their mental, emotional, and general wellbeing during remote working?
Recognise, manage, and respond to emotions
For better team cohesion, leaders need to create an environment centred around trust, open communication, engagement, and empowerment. Furthermore, leaders need to practice value recognition that’s either incentive based or occurs through words of encouragement.
Why is this so important? Social isolation remains one of the biggest challenges that people are experiencing while working remotely. While 46,6% mentioned that they often feel motivated during this time, how long can motivation be sustained without deliberate, well-informed action from employers?
That’s why organisations that support and guide their employees do so well in this regard. These types of strategies can establish a new sense of personal wellbeing, focus, and meaningful connections by adapting to employees’ behaviours and habits, reducing disruption, improving work-life balance, and ultimately enhancing productivity.
Adapt a growth mindset
It isn’t always a case of mind over matter. With employees working from home, business leaders need to realise that employees face external issues during office hours, namely personal distractions, emotional challenges due to isolation, and added home duties.
A change of attitude and mindset needs to happen so that businesses can approach situations differently. Business leaders need to be more empathetic and make time to listen to individual concerns. At the end of the day, your attitude determines your altitude, something that’s applicable to both employees and their leaders.
Identify and manage stress and burnout
Probably the most obvious tip is to check in regularly with your employees. Enquire about their work and personal life, and, in doing so, create meaningful connections. From there, it will be easier to set boundaries; for example, ensuring that employees don’t work past five, or re-adjusting their worktimes that will better suit their now normal.
Additionally, supplying teams with the tools they need to better collaborate can also lessen anxiety. Tools to assist with technical issues, manage workloads, and track what people are working on and the status of work keep teams motivated. Knowing how people are feeling contributes towards working in a more agile fashion with faster decision making and fewer challengers.
The key is in organising the chaos and confusion between these channels to maximise the benefits they bring.
This brings us to digital etiquette anxiety. Many employees worry at least once a day about how they communicate on digital platforms and whether their tone will be misinterpreted. So, how do we read digital body language? Much like face-to-face meetings, a person’s digital body language communicates their feelings, motivations, and pain points, but it’s harder to analyse when someone is behind a screen.
Sometimes, what one person sees as asking for clarity, others might see as a negative attack. Webcams or a quick 15-minute online meeting might be all that’s necessary to get the clarity you need and avoid any misinterpretations.
Prioritise physical health
Apart from working remotely, there is quite a lot employers can do to promote better health. Encouraging supplements, high-nutrient foods, and exercise not only help keeps employees healthy, it can also promote productivity during the day.
Business leaders can help employees by offering free online fitness classes, yoga, and meditation sessions, or webinars with nutrition experts on how to take better care of their physical wellbeing. In doing so, companies express their commitment to better supporting employees during these uncertain times, engage the culture, and develop resilience in employees.
Re-aligning personal motivators
Ultimately, it’s our personal motivators that drive us to deliver the best quality work, but when the organisation has a hand in driving positivity, positive things will follow. However, it starts from the top. Business leaders need to learn how to manage their emotions by reframing negative emotions into positive ones.
As a figurehead in the company, those in charge need to lead with positivity, address areas of potential burnout, and above all, build and maintain authentic relationships when interacting remotely. Granted, it isn’t always easy, but prioritising the needs of your employees and staying focused on the company goals will have an all-round positive effect on both employees and the business.
Remote working has been a test to see how agile many companies really are. And yet, getting the job done isn’t the only concern businesses face during this time. That’s why IQbusiness has developed the Becoming a Thriving Remote Worker workshop, which has a focus on coaching and mentoring remote workers. The workshop offers a set of tools and guidelines that enable individuals to adopt new behaviours and habits, reducing disruption, improving work-life balance, and enhancing productivity.