Remote work can enable employees to achieve a healthy lifestyle, allowing them to stay happy, sharp and productive throughout the workday.
My organization has been remote since its inception eight years ago. Before hiring employees, I preferred to work from home and found myself far more productive, fulfilled and healthier overall than I was in a typical office environment. As I began hiring our first employees, the best talent either didn’t want to commute or couldn’t because they lived in other states. For my company, going remote was always the easy and natural choice. Needless to say, I’ve witnessed firsthand the benefits of remote work on employee well-being, productivity and overall organizational culture.
The Covid-19 pandemic shifted the workplace as we know it. Many businesses went remote for the first time ever. Over a year later, as vaccines have become readily available, more and more employees are advocating for and demanding remote work as offices open up again. NPR reports, “As pandemic life recedes in the U.S., people are leaving their jobs in search of more money, more flexibility and more happiness. Many are rethinking what work means to them, how they are valued, and how they spend their time.” Four million Americans quit their jobs in April alone — a 20-year record.
Having happy employees can benefit your organization directly. Businesses thrive when employees feel fulfilled and content. When your employees feel happy, your clients are much more likely to feel happy as well.
Drawing on my own experience, here are four ways to create an effective remote work culture that prioritizes employees’ work-life balance and overall happiness.
1. Give employees the flexibility to work when and where they work best.
With remote work, it’s often easier to allow employees to have flexible schedules (flex scheduling). Consider letting them design schedules that work best for their energy levels, as long as they’re available for scheduled meetings and projects and can meet deadlines. If someone is a morning person, give them the liberty to log on early; if someone is a night person, give them the option to work later.
Flex scheduling enables employees to create their own schedules in ways that prioritize their mental health. This could look like making time for in-person medical and telehealth appointments, counseling services, medication pickups and other health-related obligations.
Being remote workers, employees have the freedom to work not just from home, but wherever they please. Our organization employs people living and traveling in different time zones across the world at any given time, thanks to our remote workflow. The ability to check into meetings using a few different options (spanning from video conferencing to a traditional phone call) enables travel-loving employees to still be productive on the road or trail.
2. Support them in achieving work-life balance.
Encourage employees to make time to maintain routines and practice at-home rituals. This may look like taking breaks to prepare food for lunch, exercise, meditate or even take a walk outside. Rather than being confined to the conventional spaces of the office break room, the coffee machine or the water cooler for their breaks and socialization, remote employees have more options.
Flex scheduling also helps organizations be more inclusive of students, parents and those with other major life commitments. Along with flexible schedules, I recommend providing supportive leave policies. For instance, our company offers parental and “pawternity” leave to those with children and/or pets. We also strongly encourage employees to take mental health days with their paid time off.
3. Help them create their ideal remote work environment.
For many employees, remote work helps minimize all the distractions that come with physical workplaces and thus helps them focus better overall. According to a2020 FlexJobs survey, 51% of respondents said they were more productive working from home during the pandemic.
Even before the pandemic, many employees reported that working remotely leads to higher productivity. A 2018 survey by FlexJobs found that remote work helped respondents reduce stress and improve productivity by reducing distractions and interruptions from colleagues, allowing for a quieter, more comfortable and personalized work environment. Since remote employees have the opportunity to create their work environments, they can make them as comfortable and quiet (or loud) as they prefer.
It should be noted that working from home has distractions of its own: noise from roommates, kids or pets that interrupt workflow, the pile of dirty dishes or laundry calling your name. It’s important for leaders to see employees with compassion and understand that they often fulfill many roles at once as a parent, student, caregiver, etc., ideally outside of but often alongside their jobs.
Encourage employees to build their own workspace, even if the space is small. We reimburse employees if they want to purchase an additional computer monitor and other related home office equipment. Conversely, sometimes it’s best to get out of the house. We also reimburse for co-working space and provide a coffee fund to encourage changing up the work environment to a coffee shop now and then.
4. Encourage them to make the most of time they’d otherwise spend commuting.
When you work from home, you don’t have to worry about the commute to and from work and the additional stress that comes with it. Instead, encourage employees to create a daily after-work ritual to help de-stress from the workday. For example, many of our employees report craving outdoor time after work, with activities ranging from meditation and walking to gardening and martial arts. We encourage and applaud one another’s hobbies and are all grateful to be spending time cultivating interests instead of sitting in traffic.
Employees and employers alike can benefit from the flexibility that remote work offers. In my experience, allowing employees to have more flexibility and room for improved work-life balance benefits the overall quality of work and company culture.
Remote work is being sought after by highly skilled professionals in nearly every industry, which means it’s up to employers to pivot accordingly. Don’t let excellent employees pass you by because you were unable to offer remote work as a hiring incentive for top talent. Embrace the future of remote work: It’s probably here to stay.
Source : Evan Nison | www-forbes-com.cdn.ampproject.org/c/s/www.forbes.com