Caring for your employees’ wellbeing in the remote workplace

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Despite its many advantages, remote working has been notorious for its detrimental impacts on employees’ wellbeing, particularly on mental health. Read on to learn more about how businesses can support the wellbeing of their workforce so as to thrive while working from home.

The year is 2021 and remote work is fast becoming the norm not just in Australia, but worldwide. 67% of Australians were sometimes or always working from home, in contrast to 42% before the start of the pandemic.

Working in a worldwide pandemic has since blurred the line between work and personal life, and wellbeing in the workplace depends vastly on support available for employees.

The risks & consequences of remote work

While many enjoy the freedom of remote working and cherish the extra time they get to spend at home, remote work comes with its own challenges. Sure, they get to skip the morning commute, but loneliness, time management problems and miscommunication with co-workers can rear their ugly head without proper work from home support.

One of the most common problems full-time remote workers have is disconnecting after work. According to Allianz’s Finding Balance in the Modern Workplace report, over two in three Australians have been struggling with balancing work and personal life since the onset of the pandemic.

Mental health conditions such as anxiety, stress, and burnout significantly impact both employees and companies. The total cost of mental health conditions that manifest in absenteeism, compensation claims, and reduced productivity reportedly costs Australian workplaces an estimated AU$11 billion a year.

Add that to turnover and other intangible costs of having an unhappy workforce, and one can clearly see how investing in work from home support for the employees’ wellbeing can be mutually beneficial to a successful company.

What you can do to support employees

1. Check in regularly

Discussing mental health isn’t the easiest for many people. Almost 70% of Australians surveyed stated they haven’t discussed their psychological wellbeing with their employers since the start of the pandemic.

Fostering a channel of honest, open communication can help spot the signs of mental health decline early and take preventative measures to ensure your employees’ wellbeing.

2. Implement meaningful workplace policies

Positive initiatives such as exercise plans, meal plans, and counselling sessions can be put in place to provide work from home support and promote the mental and physical wellbeing of your employees.

For instance, DHL Express increased its focus on mental health services, scaling its ‘Fit for Work, Fit for Life’ program to encourage employees to take care of their health and wellbeing. Its effort to cultivate a safe place to work has paid off as DHL Express was ranked second in 2021’s Australia’s Best Workplaces List with a stellar record for prioritising staff welfare.

3. Provide flexibility

Remote work is all about flexibility, but wellbeing in the workplace heavily depends on respecting personal time and space. After the day is over, employees should be encouraged to leave work on the shelf and enjoy their downtime. Companies can also abandon the rigid nine to five for flexible working hours so that employees — especially those with childcare responsibilities — can choose to work at the timings that best suits their needs.