Covid-19 has caused major upheaval for almost every business in the UK. For businesses that have not furloughed staff or are gradually bringing employees back from furlough, remote working has become the norm and some businesses are even considering making remote working a permanent option for their workforce.
Although remote working reaps many benefits to individuals regarding mental health, it can also have a negative impact.
Some of the benefits of working from home for an individual’s wellbeing includes; reduction of stress as a result of being in a less-pressurised environment, a decrease in tiredness by skipping the busy early morning commute, as well as the obvious cost savings this brings them. Whilst these benefits could have a positive effect on an individual’s work and lifestyle, they will face the possibility of missing out on the office culture, which could ultimately outweigh the positives of remote working.
If businesses can strike a perfect remote working-workplace culture balance then perhaps home working could work in the long-term.
How to translate workplace culture to remote working
Real time communication
Communication is key for remote working staff to stay engaged and be aware of what is going on within the business. This doesn’t mean sending an email periodically updating the team, but rather regular team meetings in the form of video calls. A Monday morning interaction and a Friday afternoon catch-up will make the team feel connected to each other and also committed to their goals and tasks. When a team member is cut off from communication it can impact their commitment, their loyalty and how connected they feel to the company.
Build a virtual community
Building a virtual community through phone and messaging apps is a great way for a team to feel connected. Of course, this could be done through email, but having a group-chat on WhatsApp or designated online tools such as Slack or Facebook’s Workplace for example is much more instant. A group-chat like this could be used for team members to support each other and ask for help with tasks if needed. To ensure this virtual space is kept strictly work-related, creating a separate, more casual group-chat as well could help the employees connect away from office and work-related topics.
Provide constant feedback to remote workers
Communication with staff shouldn’t only be raised when there is a problem, but also to give praise and feedback. Praise and feedback are essential drivers of productivity and performance, if good work goes unnoticed employees will start to feel underappreciated and undervalued. Social media is a great way to celebrate individual achievements, and promoting this publicly could motivate other employees to produce high-quality work so they can be mentioned too.
It’s important to not seem invasive or to cross boundaries, but checking in on employees on an individual level is integral to measuring wellness. This could be as simple as weekly or fortnightly calls to employees asking how they are doing at home. It’s also important to encourage staff to maintain normal levels of physical activity. Whilst in the office, employees will be up and about all day interacting with colleagues, and whilst at home it’s likely they will be far less active, particularly if they live alone.
The value of in-person mentoring
Whilst all of the above will aid in promoting a happier home-working culture, the value of mentoring and guidance could be lost if remote working continues for a prolonged period of time. Therefore, if home working does continue, businesses should ensure their offices are regarded by employees as flexible, collaborative and creative hubs that can be frequented even when remote working, and where leaders are on hand to offer their guidance to the team.
Of course, this approach could only be safely carried out if social distancing measures are able to be implemented and adhered to, or as restrictions are gradually relaxed, but this is something to consider for the near future.
At Opus 4 we believe people who are happy, enjoy their work, and if they enjoy their work, they almost always produce better results, this is important now more than ever.