With the hybrid office and remote work now being the norm, enterprises have begun to shift their operations to accommodate the new workplace.
According to PWS’s workforce of the future survey, 59% of employees are working remotely now while 64% are not planning to go back to the office.
The benefits of remote working are clear. With solutions for online meetings, remote working provides employees with more flexibility, less commute time and better work-life balance. Employees can work on a schedule that is better suited to their lifestyle, which can improve their overall productivity as well.
And while there are many positives to remote work, many people have also experienced mental health issues related to anxiety, burnout, isolation, etc. This is why it is important for organizations to help employees create a less stressful and more supportive working environment.
To further understand the needs of employees on mental health in the workplace, we launched a remote work poll on LinkedIn, asked people what is the best way they think companies can support mental wellness.
We gave four poll options including: having more social events, checking-in with staff regularly, offering more mental health resources, and a section for them to share their different answer. At the end of the two-week contest survey, we received 129 votes in total.
Of all the participants, 42% preferred to have more access to mental health resources in the workplace. As more employees become aware of the opportunities for mental health resources, such as online therapy, mental health coverage, Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs), etc., they will be more likely to leverage it.
26% of participants responded to having more social events to rebuild their social connections at work, such as online games night, virtual lunch and learns or even a virtual cocktail party!
24% of participants thought companies should check in with staff regularly. An easy way to do this is by having managers and staff simply take some time throughout the day to just have a chat with each other and encourage teams to connect with each other during breaks or at lunch.
The remaining 10% of participants gave their different ideas on how to support mental health, such as promoting physical activity during the workday and getting leaders involved.
5 ways to support the mental health of your remote workers
As we mentioned some of the ways for companies to support mental health, here are 5 more options that you can choose as an employer.
- Encourage Work/Life Balance
Managing work and home life have become much more difficult due to working from home. For many remote employees, they don’t have to spend hours commuting and can spend more time with family, which gives a better work/life balance; however, employees may still also find it difficult to separate work and life when the home becomes the workplace.
As work hours becomes more flexible for remote employees, many of them may have pressure to stay online all the time or feel guilty if they log out when there’s more work that needs to be finished. The increased expectations of working from home can negatively affect the mental health of remote workers.
Employers should encourage remote workers to set up a specific area in their home as their “office” and separate their working environment from their living area, if possible.
Besides that, it’s also important to create a work routine and only work in a set number of hours every day. Then there will be no disruption for employees while they are spending quality time with their family members. Employers should also remind remote workers accordingly to ensure their productivity in the remote office.
- Plan In-Person Events (If Possible)
Although most work can now be communicated through online meetings or messages, there’s still something about seeing coworkers in person that can’t be replicated. Long-time isolation also brings loneliness to many remote employees.
If possible, plan events or meetings where employees can get together in person. For example, monthly meetings, outdoor activities, group training, etc. These activities are great opportunities for remote employees to socialize, learn more about the company culture, and get to know their co-workers better.
In addition, you can consider pairing up employees, especially new employees, in a real-life meet-up which encourages them to build cooperative relationships and gives them, , something to look forward to.
- Set up mental health training sessions.
Prioritizing mental health and wellness within the remote workplace is now more critical than ever. Business leaders need to normalize mental health among their teams and take their remote employees’ mental state just as seriously as they would their physical health.
Companies can start to offer virtual mental health training sessions to show remote workers how seriously the company is at taking these issues and how they can leverage these resources to prevent stress and burnout.
Employees also need to be aware that they can be supported within the company to have a safer and more productive working environment.
- Be sensitive to workloads
As working hours can be easily extended in the remote office, employers should be more cautious about adding new responsibilities or challenging deadlines when an employee has recently transitioned to a remote work situation.
Leaders can support their employees’ physical and mental health by encouraging them to maintain a sensible work-life balance, and to speak up if their workload becomes unmanageable.
- Encourage mental health days
While mental health is being normalized in the remote working environment, many remote work employees are still not comfortable talking about mental health to their managers and keep all the pressure to themselves as feelings getting heavy.
Consider offering “mental health days” to prevent employees from burning out and help them release the pressure from work which is especially caring for employees who are foregoing vacation days.
By encouraging remote employees to take time off as they need it, business leaders are supporting their mental health and creating a more energetic and productive workspace.