Avoiding loneliness amongst remote workers

Today, more and more workers are working remotely or have flexible working hours. A study has shown that 70% of 18,000 employees work from a remote place and 53% spend half a week away from their office.

These flexible and remote work policies are becoming increasingly popular with employees and it’s proven that this actually increases gratitude, job satisfaction and decreases stress. Especially for parents who still have children at home.

Employees like to work remotely and/or have flexible hours because it offers quite some benefits. Not only do they save travel time, they also save significantly on gas, spend less on lunches and save costs on after-school childcare.

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor working from home

It has been shown that employees are more productive and successful when they have the everyday flexibility to complete their tasks from work but also outside of work. This means that companies will have to change the way they operate structurally. This also implies that managers face other challenges in order to manage employees in an efficient way. These in particular can be burn-out and loneliness.

Burn-out

Although employees working remotely or using flexible hours are more grateful to their employers, they often feel indebted to them and this can lead to some employees working non-stop until they break down. A research paper has shown that employees put extra time in their work as a reaction to working from home. Combined with an increasing workload (that often can’t be accomplished within the given timeframes) can lead to a burn-out more easily.

Employers need to keep in mind which attributes are considered as going “above and beyond”. Like working long hours, answering emails late at night, working in the weekends and even not sleeping. These attributes are often seen as “high-performing” traits. But the problem is these only contribute to having a burn out sooner. Employers should set the example and watch over their virtual staff and slow them down by telling them to take vacations, breaks and spend time with family. It’s difficult to diagnose a remote worker with burnout because you can’t see that it’s happening. The key is to make sure there is a process of checking in.

Loneliness

The biggest thing remote workers are struggling is loneliness. Although being alone is not the only cause of loneliness, it can be a significant factor. Managers can counter this by having an “in-the-office” day where remote employees are encouraged to come in. A study done by Gallup shows that remote workers that come in to work at least once a week are the happiest. They also reported a slightly higher rate of engagement, but most important they were more likely to state that they had a best friend at work and that their job included growth and learning opportunities. More so than full-remote or full-time office workers.

“Face-to-face time builds quality relationships, thus enabling trust and speed in communications. Having opportunities to be together is a quality investment.”

-Joe Granato

Today’s remote working and flexible working hours arrangements are more fluid than in the past. Even though some policies may prioritize over others, in a tight labor market, managers will do anything to keep their employees. This means to tailor more to the needs of the employees which includes more flexible working options but this needs to be managed and monitored in order to maximize productivity of the employees while keeping their physical and mental health in check.

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