10 things that remote workers (and their managers) can do so that WFH employees thrive

20th January 2021 Off By Vanessa Tierney

You’re out of the office, but you should never be out of the picture. Luckily, the world is full of expert advice to support remote workers…

Abodoo’s large network of remote workers is a testament to just how well working from home can work – which is a reassuring sentence to read (if a little heavy on the words ‘work’ and ‘working’!).

Remote work works… until it doesn’t. We can wax lyrical about the freedom to choose your own hours, the chance to ‘be there’ when the kids need you and to save countless hours on commuting, but we need to be honest about the drawbacks, too.

Many of these came to light for millions of new, often reluctant work-from-home employees during the pandemic. Loneliness… lack of direction… a loss of that feeling of ‘togetherness’ that helps keeps colleagues connected and on-brand.

These are real issues for many remote workers, and HR leaders and business managers are recognising that the wellbeing of their dispersed teams is something they need to address. A new playbook is being built that gives the mental health of remote workers its very own chapter.

With so much discussion about this subject comes possible solutions. Experts and insiders from all walks of life have offered their thoughts on how remote workers can be supported over the past year, and we wanted to round up some of the best ones. 

Some will be things you can use yourself, others will be suggestions you can subtly pass on to your managers. The goal? To make working from home – which we love – even better!

For managers

Establish daily check-ins

From: Harvard Business Review

Whether it’s a one-on-one call or a group chat with the whole team, HBR say that catching up every day lets the team know that you are there for them and you are listening.

Be intentional

From: Forbes

If they are to truly support their remote teams, managers need to be deliberate about it, say Forbes, and recognise that the WFH cohort has different obstacles and needs than those who are in the office.

Use animated gifs and emoticons to convey emotion

From: Lighthouse

The acclaimed leadership and management blog point out that a lot of the visual cues that we get when interacting in the office disappear when managers deal with their WFH teams. Video calls help to solve this, of course, but smaller interactions via email or WhatsApp (which may end up being used to replace the kind of ad-hoc chats that would happen in the office) are usually devoid of emotion. Find a suitable gif, they say, or emoji to send with your message which will set the right tone.

Remember remote workers’ career paths

From: Lighthouse

Another Lighthouse top tip is for managers to try and remind themselves that their remote workers are real people with hopes and dreams, and not just drones/mercenaries paid to help them get things done. Wise words!

Provide a way to collaborate

From: SHRM

The Society for Human Resource Management say that managers should not only encourage collaboration, they should agree with their teams on what is acceptable behaviour when it comes to virtual collaboration, too. Things like how quickly individuals should be expected to respond are key.

Abodoo partner Yonderdesk was designed to help remote workers collaborate with their colleagues and also stay connected to the office. It’s a digital version of the workplace and gives everyone a sense of ‘being there’ and belonging. Ask your manager to book a demo!

For individuals

Distract and redirect

From: Workplace Mental Health

It’s not all about work, work, work – WFH employees need to look after themselves, say this US-based organisation, who argue that it is important to try out activities that benefit your wellbeing and take your mind off work challenges. These will be different for everyone, but could include anything from running and yoga to painting or playing an instrument.

Focus on the silver linings

From: Black Dog Institute

This Australian mental health organisation say it can be beneficial to remind yourself from time to time about the many great things that come with working from home. They suggest things like reduced stress, no commuting costs and more – but everyone will have their own little reasons why they love it. Come back to these whenever you need to!

Have a proper lunch break

From: The Mental Health Foundation

The UK charity say that stopping for a proper lunch break is really important – especially if you make yourself something nice and healthy to eat, and pause to step outside for a while as part of your lunch break. Squeeze in some exercise if you can and, in doing so, press the ‘reset’ button on the day.

Break up your work day

From: Forbes

Building on the last point, Forbes suggest breaking up your whole day with pleasant distractions. It can help reduce monotony – think of it as a replacement for those moments you might once have spent in the office wandering to the kitchen to make a coffee or chatting for a few moments with a colleague. Breaking the day up with short exercises is one way of going about it.

Manage your information intake

From: FastCo

The global business website says that the likes of Facebook and Twitter can be super-distracting when working from home – maybe you leave the TV on in the background, too. All of this can add to your stress levels – you’re absorbing far too much information and it can all seem overwhelming. Reduce the distractions, focus on the work, take lots of breaks and a very productive day should fly by.