Is Remote Work Damaging Your Employees' Wellbeing?

Posted: 04.28.2021
It goes without saying that working from home can definitely have an impact on employees’ wellbeing and sleep.

No longer having a commute (even if it’s a short one) likely means that they aren’t getting up as early as they used to, which then translates to going to bed at a later time too.

In addition to that, remote work can also make it harder for employees to separate work from home, since they are already at home.

It’s an adjustment many employees are going through, but it doesn’t have to negatively impact them. When working from home is implemented correctly and employees learn how to take care of their wellbeing, remote work can be successful.

Below we discuss some findings from a study done by Microsoft on the status of employees’ wellbeing since the start of the pandemic and some ways managers and HR professionals can help to alleviate some of their work from home stresses.

Microsoft’s Study
The study found that one top stressor among those working from home was the lack of separation between work and life, with one third of remote workers saying it is affecting their wellbeing.

Although many likely dreaded their daily commute to work, Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research Shamsi Iqbal says “commutes provide blocks of uninterrupted time for mentally transitioning to and from work, an important aspect of wellbeing and productivity.”

Another top stressor among employees noted within study was their feeling of disconnect from their co-workers. Many businesses and organizations try to beat this divide by using programs such as ZOOM to re-create that face-to-face session in a virtual setting, however the study showed that in some instances there were actually fewer boundaries between managers and employees as a result of this. The study found that:
  • People are in more meetings (55% increase in number of meetings and calls per week)
  • Employees were taking more hoc calls and managing incoming chats (48% increase in Teams chats per person overall)
  • Chats after 5pm have also increased (69% more Teams chats per person after hours)
How do we manage and/or make changes to these stressors?
Of the people Microsoft surveyed, 70% said that mediation could help decrease their work-related stress and that percentage increased to 83% for those managing childcare or homeschooling.

Check out a list of free mindfulness/meditation apps here.

Below are some of TorontoJobs.ca’s tips on how to create a better work/life balance:
  1. Maintain your wake up and commute schedule. While working at home, continue to wake up the same time you normally would as if you were getting ready to drive to work. During your normal “commute time” you could use that time to mentally prepare yourself for the workday.
  2. Get outside for fresh air. Whether you do it during your lunch break or after you’ve finished your work for the day, ensure you take some time to actually leave your home to avoid being cooped up inside.
  3. Eat healthy and exercise. Nourish your body with healthy foods and get moving on a daily basis. Not only will this help you feel more energized, but your mind will have much more clarity and focus.
  4. Connect with your employees about non-work-related subjects. Whether it’s a funny meme, interesting article, or a ZOOM social, this will help to maintain a casual connection and help break up the day with things that are not always about work.
  5. Avoid working after work hours and on weekends. Sometimes it’s understandable, especially if it’s a busier time of year, but don’t make it a habit. Stay away from thinking “I’ll just send one more email,” “I’ll take just one more phone call,” “I’ll make just one more edit.” These can turn into more calls, emails, and working on projects longer.
References:
Microsoft Study

For more tips and advice, you can watch all our videos on our Toronto Recruiters YouTube Channel here.

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