The shift towards a more flexible way of working means that at any one time a significant proportion of an organisation’s workforce may be working from home. Responsibility rests with the employer to ensure the wellbeing of those employees, even when they’re working remotely, so what can be done to enable that?
- Firstly, communication is vital. Managers need to stay in touch with every member of their team, ensure they have training, and put in place good systems and practice for team meetings. Other useful tactics to keep everyone connected include buddy or mentoring systems and Employee Resource Groups. But it’s also really important to nip in the bud any sense of stigma around remote working, loneliness or broader mental health issues. It all comes back to good communication!
- In a practical context, think about the quality of Safety at Work policies in place, including ergonomic assessments and general safety practices. Are they comprehensive and appropriate for home as well as office? Do those working at home need additional equipment or support?
- When team members are not all physically working together, they may need more clarity around their own and others’ roles and what’s expected on a day to day basis. ‘Rules of the road’ may have been implicit when everyone was in the office but could be less so in a hybrid environment, so spell them out.
- It is undoubtedly the case that a healthy body helps foster a healthy mind. With no commute, remote working may open up greater opportunities for some colleagues to exercise, but others may miss the workplace gym or be swamped by childcare. Again, communication and support is key in enabling people to look after themselves.
- Finally, I’m a big fan of the three Bs as a mantra for remote working: Breaks in the working day, Boundaries between home and work life, and Balance – physically, between sitting and moving; psychologically, between individual and team work; and in time, between work and personal commitments.