3 Risks of Remote Working and How to Avoid Them
August 29 2018Read more
But there’s another side to remote working that is often overlooked: the negative impact it can have on your employees’ mental wellbeing.
Recent figures released by the HSE show that UK businesses lose around 12.5 million working days due to work-related stress, depression and anxiety. So if you employ remote workers, it’s important to educate yourself of the risks associated with working away from your headquarters, and how to minimise them.
While remote working can remove typical work stresses for your employees such as commuting, it can also create new stressful factors that your staff might not be prepared for, such as the below:
Some people prefer working from home because they don’t have to deal with distractions from other colleagues and office politics.
But being away from the main office can mean that remote workers don’t have the same access to a support network that your on-site staff do. So if they do have a problem, either personal or work-related, they won’t have anyone to turn to.
Solution: Check in with your remote workers on a regular basis. Even a simple phone call to check how they’re coping with their workload can have positive effects on their mental wellbeing. You should also arrange to meet your remote workers in person on a regular basis.
When your staff start working from home, they may think it’ll be easier for them to balance their work and family life.
But the reality is that these two responsibilities often intertwine. Problems that your staff could have put aside until they got home from work are now a constant presence, potentially resulting in severe stress.
Solution: Encourage your home workers to plan strategies to make sure their home life doesn’t interfere with work during ‘office’ hours. One idea is to create a home office, or at least a space devoted only to working. If that is not an option, a simple ‘Do not disturb sign’ should suffice.
If your staff are working away from the office, it may be tempting to monitor them more closely than you would your on-site employees.
But if your remote workers feel pressured to always make themselves available, either to you or their colleagues, this will can have devastating effect on their mental health.
Studies have shown that remote workers are online more and work longer hours than on-site staff. This could be because they don’t want to give the impression they are avoiding their responsibilities.
Solution: Help your employees to set limits. Encourage them to stick to their contracted hours and make sure they’re taking regular lunch breaks.
Despite the negatives detailed in this article, remote working is not an inherently bad option to introduce to your workforce. Some employees thrive when they can dictate their own schedule, and intertwine their personal and work lives.
The benefits of ensuring all your workers are happy can be hugely beneficial to your organisation. Studies have repeatedly shown that companies who emphasise healthy living and make employee engagement a priority, are more financially successful.
If you prepare your staff of the potential mental health risks associated with remote working before they begin, you’ll increase their chances of being healthier, happier and more productive members of your team.
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