By Calvin Gower, Trüpp.

Improving the well-being of remote workers during the COVID-19 outbreak

As the nation combats the COVID-19 pandemic, a significant number of employers are moving to a largely remote workforce. While telecommuting and flexible schedules are common in today’s business ecosystem, many employers have never had to face the challenges of supporting an entire workforce of work-from-home employees complicated even further by a time of strict social distancing mandates. Here are some helpful tips for improving morale and the overall well-being of employees.

Focus on social interaction and connection

Employees are now missing the small interactions they are used to having throughout the day, from small talk in the morning to group banter on lunch breaks. But this doesn’t mean they have to miss out on interacting with others. Utilize the power of virtual communication. Whether your company uses Slack, Zoom, Skype, Microsoft Teams, or a similar application, there are a number of ways to message, call, or video chat with coworkers. Encourage your team to interact on a social level with one another and utilize the channels of communication to fulfill purposes other than work.

Social interactions can extend to whatever interests your employees. Put guidelines in place if necessary, but let your team get creative! Some team building ideas are listed below.

  • Group discussion boards for casual conversation or activity ideas
  • Virtual morning coffee, lunch break, or happy hour
  • Online book club
  • Virtual movie night
  • Posting videos or pictures of your at-home coworkers (pets, kids, etc.)
  • Virtual show-and-tell of your favorite at home necessities

Encourage healthy best practices for work-life balance

When an employee is working from home and then continues to stay at home after workhours, it can be hard to find balance. Encouraging your employees to take time to refresh and relax throughout the day is more important than ever.

Here are some simple ways to support the overall well-being of your employees:

  • Encourage breaks – Give your employees ideas for incremental breaks throughout the day, such as getting outside for a walk, Facetiming a friend or family member, or even just relaxing on the patio or couch with a cup of coffee. Anything that helps them to step away from their work and reset their minds.
  • Provide at-home workout resources – Even if an employee doesn’t live the most active lifestyle or lacks the workout equipment necessary to do certain exercises, there are infinite ways they can get in some productive physical activity. Explore phone apps, forums, or other resources for working out at home and pass them along to your team.
  • Provide mental-health resources – With an increased lack of social interaction or feelings of isolation, employees who are highly social or who struggle with depression or mental illness are likely to face an uphill battle. Encourage remote employees to use tools like meditation and relaxation apps or telemedicine resources for mental health services. Even those who enjoy solitude may find these types of resources helpful at this time.

Show empathy and help with unexpected challenges and circumstances

As employees are thrown out of their daily routine, challenges are inevitable. Whether it’s parenting logistics, frustration with technology, or simply struggling to cope with the reality of the current situation, extend support to your remote workers. While it’s impossible to know or understand the personal circumstances of every individual, focus on paying attention to social cures, showing empathy, and being flexible in your approach. As an employer and coworker, be mindful of others and the help they may need from you. Adding this approach to your business continuity plan will facilitate greater productivity and wellbeing among your remote workers and keep them going strong for the long-haul.

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