Organisational Planning for Remote Workers
Analysis from TUC shows that in the UK there are 373,000 more employees working from home than 10 years ago. This represents a 27% increase within a decade. That rapid growth is likely to increase as around 4 million would like to work from home some of the time but aren’t allowed to do so. Improved technology and a different professional landscape has dramatically changed how work is, and can be, carried out. And responding to events like the global Covid-19 outbreak mean remote work is a necessary part of the equation.
Covid-19 has closed offices all over the world, shut down cities in China and led the whole of Italy to be placed under lockdown. Planning for your remote workers’ wellbeing is essential, whether they are out of the office by choice or whether your hand has been forced. Your remote workers’ engagement, productivity and wellbeing at work are still your responsibility. It’s important to make sure you are well positioned to support your workers, whatever their location. This is particularly the case when a threat to their health and wellbeing is the reason for their working remotely.
If you can, be proactive in putting a plan in place for remote work. Reacting in an off-the-cuff manner will likely have worse outcomes than acting in accordance with a well-considered plan. Of course, events like the global Covid-19 outbreak are impossible to predict, so there's no embarrassment in finding that a professional challenge. Instances like this, however, make clear just how important it is to think ahead when it comes to the wellbeing of your workers and the health of your organisation as a whole.
Consider the following tips to safeguard the health, wellbeing and professional engagement of your remote workers:
Make sure your employees are equipped with the tools they need to carry out their duties without frustration. When working with a remote workforce, you will likely need to adjust how your meetings take place. Video conferencing and screen shares can be great enablers for remote working and can ease the challenges faced by working far from colleagues. Where possible, introduce your employees to these methods before they are necessary. Be aware that introducing new tech at work can be a source of stress for workers, so pay attention to how your remote workers feel and function and do what you can to support them. And remember, a simple old-fashioned phone call can do a lot of work.
Remote work allows a degree of comfort and flexibility, but it also threatens a blurring of lines between work-life and home-life. Make it clear to your remote workers that their work obligations and expectations haven’t changed and encourage them to mark a clear end of their work day — turning off work devices and discouraging out of hours work emails are reasonable measures.
3. Communicate regularly and clearly
How well people take to remote work varies greatly from one person to another. Set clear expectations and be prepared to adjust according to performance and feedback. The fact that you aren’t able to pop by a colleague’s desk or see who is in the office means availability is more complicated. And when availability is complicated, communication can suffer and frustrations can arise. Reduce this possibility by encouraging your employees to share and be transparent with their schedules and be sure to communicate priorities clearly. Your workers will appreciate knowing what needs to be done when and where and their work will reflect that appreciation.
4. Recognise limitations
Depending on the nature of your organisation, remote work may be a larger or a smaller challenge. It may be the case that when some employees are working remotely, some tasks can’t be completed. Be aware of this and adjust: recognise what tasks might fall into this category and plan to complete them in a different way.
5. Good working practices
Your office is designed for work. Homes are not. When your colleagues work from home, they face challenges that arise out of the environment itself and the potential absence of routine. Urge your workers to set up dedicated work space in their home that works for them: a desk or table space are much preferable to the sofa or bed in terms of productivity and posture. Provided your workers are healthy, remind them to get outside for exercise and natural light. It can be all too easy to get stuck inside from morning until night when you don’t need to head into the office. And when workers find themselves at home throughout the day, unhealthy habits can creep in — particularly unhealthy snacking, under-hydration and failing to take breaks. At work, it’s easy to get up from your desk in order to grab a drink of water and find yourself talking to a colleague for a few minutes. When you’re working solo at home, these opportunities don’t arise, so encourage your colleagues to keep up their healthy behaviours.
6. Working alone
Some people thrive working alone and some people don’t. It isn’t the case that one person is better than the other, but it might be the case that one takes to remote working easier. Stay in contact with your remote workers and try not to make everything about work. You’re still colleagues and they are still people despite the fact you aren’t face to face and various technologies might be acting as a go-between. And recognise opportunity to motivate. Without the morning and evening commute, your remote workers will gain time and perhaps save some money too. Remind them of these benefits: who doesn’t want more hours in the day and more cash in their pockets?
Remote work is a growing part of professional life and can be a tremendous asset for your organisation and the people who work there. Remote work can improve work-life balance and allow for progress to continue even when the unexpected happens. Build a good foundation for healthy and productive remote work in your organisation and continually improve it to reap rewards, wherever your workers may find themselves.
A Guide to Health and Wellness for Remote Working Employees
Planning for the year ahead
Our normal working lives are changing and the lines between work life and home life are blurring even more as we see a seismic shift towards remote working. This creates wide ranging challenges that affect business continuity, culture, communication, staff engagement and importantly employee health and wellbeing.
At Welbot we’ve been working remotely, over multiple locations, since our inception so we thought we’d share some of our thoughts and experience in maintaining a healthy balance for both mind and body.
Routine is step number one in creating a strong foundation for your personal wellbeing when working remotely. It’s all too easy to pop on a dressing gown or start work in your pyjamas and before you know it the day has gone. The routine of getting up, morning ablutions, getting dressed and eating breakfast - all the things that you’d do if you were leaving the house to go to work should remain in place.
If you can get outside in the morning then do it before your working day begins. A short walk, some exercise and some fresh air can really help set you up for the day ahead. Try different routes gently increasing how far you go each day. It’s too easy to stay inside but that little effort is worth it.
If you have family at home then routine for them is equally important. Giving structure adds meaning and purpose to their day too. Sometimes it’s easier just to let things go for an easier life but it’s not great for long term physical and mental health.
Provide your family with a structure to their day too which involves exercise, learning activities, regular mealtimes and social interaction. The structure also makes it clear when you are working and not to be disturbed - working from home can get stressful when you have deadlines as well as juggling domestic needs.
It’s easy to overlook daily exercise when working from home - faced with various priorities you’ll always put work first and can fall into the trap of “I have to do this work now” - maybe you do but you also need to look after your health now too. It’s easier to prioritise other things other than your wellbeing but you’ll need to find the balance.
Lead from the front and by example. Explain to your colleagues that you’re not available before work starts, at lunchtime or after your working day as you are exercising - your health and your employees health benefits the company.
You don’t have to go overboard and you should always work up to strenuous exercise but there are many things you can do.
House work contributes to exercise so you can concentrate on doing tasks around your home — you don’t need a home gym to keep healthy - even tidying up and cleaning can help you get on top of your mood. There are many good quality apps and online resources available that can help you with mindfulness and indoor workout routines too.
Not everyone is fortunate to have multiple home offices so you need to consider the impact of this. Can everyone in your family realistically work from home and what space do they need? Working from the kitchen table is fine for a while but that’s not a real solution. Encourage employees, where possible, to create a workspace that they can also get away from.
If you have more than one person working at home, work through where calls can be taken and where your workplace is. Natural light is very important as is good lighting. If you find yourself working from a box room then make sure you get enough daylight - that’s important for your health too.
Keep Up Regular Contact
We know that mental health can be adversely affected by lack of social interaction. At a time when isolation and quarantine is an essential part of day-to-day life we all need to look after our personal wellbeing as well as our health.
Hold regular virtual meetings with staff. Schedule them at regular intervals during the week and have regular check ins. Email isn’t enough - you need to be proactive at making the time for others and making sure they are looked after remotely.
Indoor exercise, eating regularly, hydration, routine and communication are all essential to helping keep on top of things. If you live alone then it’s a good time to schedule calls with friends and family too - social media contact can be good too but don’t overdo your screen time.
Work Life Balance
People who work at home tend to work longer hours so make sure you regulate your own time. Don’t be afraid to have a break for lunch and stop at a reasonable time. Having a good working routine will help you balance out work and home life when you no longer travel to your place of work.
Working from home has a lot of benefits and can boost productivity but you have to avoid slipping into bad behaviours and habits.
Create Healthy Habits
At the point of change, it’s an opportunity to get things right from the start. They say change is as good as a rest and this is an ideal time for you to start changing your behaviour for the better. Think about what you are eating - plan healthy snacks, have a glass of water by your desk, make a conscious effort to stop work at a reasonable time, don’t check your emails into the evening.
Working remotely requires self discipline. Separate your hours and make sure you have time dedicated to work and time dedicated to improving your quality of life.
It is a stressful time and as an employer, senior member of staff or even a parent and trying to keep calm at all times helps everyone else. There is enough uncertainty at the moment and maintaining positivity helps breed wellbeing in the people around you.
Adopting mindfulness and breathing techniques can help reduce your overall stress levels and can help you deal with those in-the-moment crisis that can appear.
There is no doubt that working from home can boost your productivity. Less distractions and interruptions, less meetings, reduced travel and commute time but none of this should come at you or your employees personal expense.
A good business culture nurtures its staff welfare and “out of sight” shouldn’t mean “out of mind”. There are lots of online resources and support for businesses that are transitioning to a predominantly remote workforce. Good communication is crucial, as is providing employees with wellbeing support given that their working lives are being majorly disruptive. There are many people who will find working from home very challenging and they will need all the help and support they can get to work to their best ability.
Welbot Wellbeing Roundup
March is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month
Organised by Prostate Cancer UK, this campaign aims to raise awareness of prostate cancer and raise money so the charity can provide even better support to both sufferers and their families. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the UK, with around 36,000 men diagnosed with the disease each year.
If you would like to get involved or make a donation, visit the official website. By raising awareness, more people can be diagnosed earlier and enjoy good health for longer.
First Day of Spring
The end of winter is fast approaching. Friday March 20 marked the first day of spring in the northern hemisphere. Cold days and long nights can have a serious effect on all of us in various ways. Our mood, our appetite, our desire to be physically active and our relationships can all be different in winter from how they are in the brighter part of the calendar. So embrace the fast approaching warmer temperatures and longer days which can act as a big boost to your overall wellbeing.
Coronavirus and COVID-19
COVID-19 is still an emerging and rapidly developing situation. At time of writing, there have been more than 340,000 reported cases of the virus worldwide and more than 14,000 people have died. Obviously this is a serious matter and one that people all over the globe will be relieved to see under control. Many people are being encouraged to work from home and most large events have been cancelled or adjusted with a view to protecting public health. Do your bit to be a responsible global citizen and be in the know.
For more information about the virus and how to protect yourself, visit NHSUK/coronavirus. You can also use the 111 online coronavirus service to check if you need medical help. The UK government has published its coronavirus response plan and expanded its public information campaign.
Welbot Product Update March 2020
Major Upgrade Launching Soon
We have been working very closely with a selection of our enterprise clients and we are currently in the middle of testing Welbot 3.0 which features a new Customer Account Manager, preset notifications, custom notifications as well as Alerts. If you are interested in finding out more then you can request a Free 14 Day Trial.
As well as our free product trial we are now offering customers a free on-demand demo service too. If you would like us to walk you and your colleagues through the product features, and what we have pipleined for future releases, then we can set up a remote video call for you.
You can book your personal demo here: Welbot Online Demo