Welcome to our feature, Remote Worker Well-Being.
Perhaps you personally are convinced of the significance of employee wellness, but you wonder how to persuade the rest of your leadership team to prioritize well-being during a global pandemic. The benefit of taking care of your employees will outweigh the cost of doing so. Recent research found that companies that adopted five of these wellness initiatives were able to improve employee loyalty by 79%, helping retain top talent while saving the time, money, and resources needed for new hires.
As vaccinations become more available and some companies plan for their office returns, some people are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. But even in the best-case scenario, the pandemic will have left countless employees with mental health scars. Those scars require swift action and a profound but strategic rethinking of mental health support and how to create the right structures at the organizational level — now and in the post-pandemic future.
Remote Worker Well-Being
Remote worker wellbeing has suffered during the 2020/ 2021 lockdowns. There have been no gradual onboarding for new employees. Or water cooler intrigue for those who enjoy such social experiences in their ‘personalized’ office environment.
So… How have remote workers reacted?…
How easily do different personalities adapt to a remote working environment?
In summary, in terms of Big Five personality character, effective remote work relies upon 3 key personality traits:
Conscientiousness describes people’s motivation, discipline and capacity for long-term planning. Employees with higher levels of conscientiousness tend to be more self-motivated and able to manage their own schedules and deadlines independently.
High conscientiousness is a significant asset in a remote working environment, and those with high conscientiousness tend to be better able to manage and organise their workload, deadlines, schedules and responsibilities when working independently. Those with lower conscientiousness are likely to need more oversight and support.
How to manage highly conscientious remote workers
- Those remote workers with higher conscientious personality profiles tend to want more autonomy and independence in their work.
- They tend to be good at managing their own schedules, but may have more difficulty switching off, especially when at home.
Managing remote workers with ‘low conscientious profiles’
- Whereas, remote workers with lower conscientiousness often need more external support, accountability and regular check-ins to keep on track.
- They tend to be more motivated by their immediate physical and social environment.
- So tend to need external help with time management.
(2) Adjustment and Adaptability personality traits
This explains how people react to stressors and someone’s ability to manage and regulate their own emotions. Hence, remote workers with:
- Higher adjustment levels tend to have an easier time adapting to some of the new demands and stressors of working remotely.
- Lower adjustment levels may find new working environments stressful. They may, however, also find working remotely relieves some of the stressors present in traditional working environments.
How to manage high adjustment remote workers?
- Higher adjustment remote workers adapt more quickly and feel less anxiety than others.
- But this also means they are more likely to seem aloof.
- In times of extreme challenge or stress they may be less comfortable discussing anxieties.
- So prompting these discussions may be necessary.
How to manage low adjustment remote workers?
Reassurance and clarity can be very helpful. Hence remote workers with
- Lower adjustment may be more likely to ruminate or jump to worst-case-scenario thinking.
- It’s important for managers to provide open and honest information and reinforce the importance of their contribution at work.
(3) Intellectual Curiosity personality trait(s)
- Remote workers with higher levels of curiosity enjoy learning new things, and they tend to enjoy new work environments.
- Those with higher curiosity are likely to adapt more quickly to new situations and enjoy the process of learning.
- They tend to adapt more quickly to new tools and technologies and many have a preference for remote or flexible working environments.
Managing remote work personality profiles with high curiosity
- Remote workers with high curiosity tend to enjoy novelty
- Typically, learning new things, and are often quicker to adapt.
- They may be more distractible and can benefit from managers keeping them focused.
- Sometimes needing guidance when prioritising objectives.
Managing low curiosity remote workers
People with lower curiosity need much more consistency and regularity in their schedules, tasks and work. Those with lower curiosity often prefer more consistency in schedules and meetings, and may benefit from making their home working space resemble a traditional office environment.
Preempt Your Team’s Work Stressors
This approach requires preempting work stressors by addressing the conditions that generate mental health issues in the first place, detecting emerging issues, and remedying identified issues.
With the rise of remote work and the erosion of work-life boundaries, employees need to disconnect. At the preemptive stage, a focus on the organizational culture is essential to promote self-care values and healthy work-life boundaries. Leaders can proactively address these issues in a number of ways.
Model wellness and balance for your team
As a leader, it’s not enough to say that you prioritize wellness and announce a few virtual wellness events or services via your intranet or in internal communications. Each manager, supervisor, and team lead has a responsibility to demonstrate the company’s commitment to well-being. Clearly valuing your own well-being shows your team that you value theirs, too. In practice, this may mean actually using your vacation days, being open about the block on your calendar reserved for a therapy appointment, or just recommending a great personal development book you’ve read. When it comes to modeling wellness for your team, it’s all about openness and action.
This is an obvious concern if your organization has shrunk its workforce, but a more subtle — in fact, invisible — element is the workload your employees face at home. Do they have child care or elder care responsibilities? Are they serving as remote-learning classroom assistants? Do they share a living space with interrupting roommates or relatives? Under these circumstances, some employees may not be able to handle their regular workloads, which shifts the weight to colleagues. But we all need balance.
Revisit your company’s values
If we learned anything as a society in 2020, it’s that we need to take a hard look at the way we live, work, and play. It’s essential to reevaluate how you, as a leader, show up for your employees — not just your clients. Thoroughly examine your company values and see if they still hold up in practice after a year of remote work. If practice and values align, consider how you’ll incorporate these values in your future in-person, fully remote, or hybrid workplace — and if there’s a gap between values and practice, figure out what needs to shift to bring them into alignment.
For example, many companies that considered themselves progressive in supporting employees with caregiving responsibilities — child care or elder care, or care for relatives with illnesses or disabilities — realized during the pandemic that there were significant gaps in their understanding of those employees’ challenges in balancing work and life.
Detecting Emerging WellBeing Issues
A culture of self-acceptance can help support individual employees suffering from mental health issues to overcome their reticence about disclosing their situation. Similarly, creating a culture of awareness can encourage employees to support colleagues who might be struggling.
Anonymous pulse surveys are useful tools for detecting brewing mental health issues before they emerge.
- Survey responses will help assess the organization’s overall mental health climate and may help to identify areas — specific functions or teams
- For example — that require particular support.
- Whilst pulse surveys will give you a big-picture view of how members of your organization are functioning, you’ll also need to more deliberately seek out information from individuals.
Actively listen to your employees
- It’s simple to host a virtual wellness event or offer employees a well-being stipend.
- What’s less straightforward is asking your team what they need, genuinely listening, and responding accordingly.
- In a world that feels like it’s changing by the hour, it’s critical to get a sense of how your employees’ well-being is changing, too.
- Maybe a staff survey. Or a supervisor’s honest conversation with team members.
Embed wellness in the employee review process
- Whether your company does reviews annually, quarterly, or monthly, make wellness a part of the process.
- Take the opportunity to find out if your employees feel taken care of and ask for feedback on how the company is supporting your staff’s well-being.
- A review isn’t just a moment for managers to provide team members with individualized feedback; it’s a critical moment to hear from them whether they feel valued, heard, and cared for as members of the company.
Remote Worker WellBeing
Not all of 2020 / 2021’s challenges were due to having to wfh. The covid pandemic was stressful for everyone’s family environment, what they heard on the news and their own well-being.
Our Remote Worker Well-Being Resources
We have our own wfh personas, then our digital skills transformation and digital leadership assessment.
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