As in-office teams have gone remote, they’ve faced no shortage of challenges in maintaining their productivity in new environments — not to mention their sanity.
Even before a widespread shift to telecommuting, remote workers routinely faced challenges in fending off loneliness and creating high-quality connections with colleagues and customers from afar.
In 2018, Harvard Business Review chronicled then-current research on the effects of remote work on employee isolation and burnout:
Fast forward to 2020 and the same challenges are present, if not more intensified by external factors. The 2020 edition of Buffer’s survey found “loneliness” again at the top of the most cited struggles, tied with “collaboration and communication.”
What can managers, in particular, do to alleviate the mental stress on their teams? Let’s explore a few of the most common tactics.
It’s not enough to just do a one-time check-in with an employee to see how they’re holding up. Instead, try the following:
In May 2020, Cisco offered employees a company-wide “Day for Me” for purposes of everyone’s well-being. This occasion — an opportunity for the company to take a “collective break” — continued Cisco’s longer-term commitment to mental health, both internally and externally. Cisco leadership has, at other junctures, sent out email updates on mental health and contributed to the ramping-up of telehealth services enabled by Cisco Webex.
More broadly, other organizations may benefit from encouraging their employees to prioritize their mental health by taking advantage of vacation or PTO days and not letting their work intrude into odd hours. Even on days when employees are working, regular breaks and a consistent routine are essential in recharging from the sometimes overwhelming stress of balancing work with ongoing background anxieties.
These techniques help reset the mind and also reduce the eyestrain of looking at screens all day. Consider getting up at least every 20 to 30 minutes, if feasible, and taking the occasion to look at somewhere other than a phone or PC.
One reason that remote employees may feel isolated is that the most common forms of collaboration are very impersonal. Email exchanges can happen without the recipients ever knowing what each other looks or sounds like. And yet enormous time blocks of each work week are consumed composing, responding to, and generally managing email.
In contrast, real-time collaboration solutions with features for video, audio, and screen sharing can provide a much more personalized experience that is good not only for productivity but also for staving off feelings of isolation and burnout. Real-time collaboration tools offer:
Add it all up, and the experience is more engaging than relying on email alone. Webex can be the centerpiece of your mental health-conscious and inclusive remote work experience.
Learn more by getting started for free.
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