NEWS #14

Addressing wellbeing issues in remote working environments

Health is an important and diverse issue in the context of remote working. While remote working offers benefits such as flexibility, reduced travel time and access to a wider pool of talent, it also presents challenges in terms of maintaining employee wellbeing.  Consider these key issues. Remote working allows employees to create a tailored work schedule that fits their individual preferences and commitments, promoting a better work-life balance. Eliminating the need to travel can reduce the stress associated with long commutes, traffic and congestion, improving overall mental health. In addition, remote workers tend to have greater autonomy over their work environment, leading to greater job satisfaction.

However, remote working can have a negative impact on employee wellbeing. The blurring of boundaries between work and home can lead to stress and burnout. The absence of this boundary can lead to an increase in working hours and ultimately a decrease in rest time. Issues relating to the nature of communication in a remote working environment can lead to misunderstandings and misinterpretations. This can lead to reduced job satisfaction. In a remote working environment, employees can feel isolated, which can reduce their sociability and have a negative impact on their wellbeing.

Recent research suggests that employees who work remotely or in hybrid models are at greater risk of mental health problems. According to an analysis by the Integrated Welfare Institute (IBI), working from home (40%) and working collaboratively (38%) are associated with a higher risk of anxiety and depressive symptoms compared to working on-site (35%).   The IBI is a non-profit research institution situated in Oakland, California. 

According to an October survey by RSM US Professional and the American Chamber of Commerce, a majority of executives (64%) disclosed that remote working has a negative impact on employees' mental health, up from 55% in the previous year. Seventy-three per cent of executives stated that employees experienced isolation, which indicates a rise from 68 per cent in 2021.

But what can be done to reduce the negative impact of teleworking on employee wellbeing? 

Understanding how to communicate effectively in a remote environment is crucial to maintaining sufficient productivity and collaboration in the workplace. Managers should use good etiquette when communicating remotely. While it is not possible to display natural body language, it is possible to convey appropriate signals through consistent communication patterns and language. There are several steps that can be taken to improve remote communication. Today, it is important to ensure that messages are clearly understood. Follow these guidelines to achieve clarity, from understanding the purpose of your message to being aware of tone and body language:

Finally, measures should be taken to reduce the isolation of employees and the attractiveness of social communication within a group. A positive working environment can be fostered by improving communication between colleagues, which can be achieved through multiple digital communication channels. To thrive in this new digital era, you need to create a pleasant and supportive workplace where managers and employees value and respect each other. It is also imperative that everyone understands how they can increase productivity through teamwork and communication. To integrate disparate communication methods into a unified collaborative work platform, organisations must develop technology solutions that engage employees and foster collaborative workspaces. This approach ensures that employees do not feel isolated, but rather part of the same community, helping to combat feelings of depression, stress and isolation.

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