This is a guest post for the MELD Coworking blog written by Riya Sander.
Working remotely is a concept believed to have a positive impact on an employee’s engagement and work-life balance. The idea was introduced to help employees achieve work-life balance, reduce commuting time, and organize their time.
While the premise for working remotely was to improve an employee’s productivity, recent findings show that they also experience stress just as other employees. A report from the International Labour Organization (ILO) shows that the ease of working from anywhere/anytime also causes stress. Here are some problems that remote workers commonly experience:
1. Long Working Hours
Working remotely does not restrict an employee to specific working hours. As such, one tends to work for longer hours, including late nights and weekends when compared to those who work for a set number of hours. This trend increases the chances of getting burnout. Productivity may reduce after hitting a certain threshold, which is usually 50 hours a week.
2. Reduced Social Interaction
Remote workers barely interact with other employees. This lack of face-to-face interaction can be detrimental to one’s ability to socialize and relate to crowds.
3. Inability to Separate Work and Personal Life
Working remotely provides great flexibility which enables employees to create a healthy work-life balance. However, it is easy to blur the lines between work and home, making it challenging for an employee to rest and recover.
4. Inability to Identify Stress-Related Symptoms
When working in an office, it is easy to identify stressed employees. They often act out, lack motivation or are always exhausted. Remote employees, on the other hand, barely interact with anybody hence, may never realize they are stressed or when it is appropriate to seek help.
So, How to Eliminate Stress?
1. Lay Down Remote Working Policies
Working from home does not give employees a license to relax or reduce productivity. As such, a company should set out policies to streamline its telecommuting system. For example, indicate the number of hours an employee should work from home, the number of days an employee can work from home, and the need to alert the supervisor when working remotely.
Japan’s Nissan Motor Company uses a telecommuting system for all its employees except those in manufacturing. The system allows employees to telecommute five days a week. As such, employees need to apply for a work-from-home approval, work for eight hours, and send a report to the supervisor at the beginning and end of the day.
2. Create a Platform for Consistent Communication with Remote Employees
Remote employees can’t participate in the casual conversations that occur in regular workplaces, which makes them feel isolated. Employers can employ modern communication tools like FaceTime and video chat to help remote employees feel included. Also, the company culture should nurture a collaborative environment through team-based activities to ensure remote workers remain in touch.
3. Puzzles and Stress Relief
Add mind training games like wooden puzzles to your work station. They help relieve stress by flexing the analytical (right) part of the brain and nudging the creative side (left). Solving puzzles not only relieve stress but challenge the brain by transforming it from a wakeful state to an ‘Alpha’ state of solving puzzles. This shift in consciousness helps relieve stress.
4. Ensure the Employee is a Suitable Fit for Working Remotely
Telecommuting may not be suitable for all employees. It is essential for employers to work with their employees to identify those who fit this type of working system. The PSA Group, for example, requires employees to work for one year in an office before telecommuting. During this period, the company assesses an employee’s mastery in a skill, level of mutual trust, ability to be autonomous, and compatibility with the organization, among other features.
5. Develop a Routine
Have a separate office space away from family to help concentrate on your work. If you don’t have lots of space at home, go to a café, a local library or other quiet area. Also, surround yourself with like-minded people. It is a good way of interacting by striking up proactive conversations in-between work periods. When you are done with the day’s work, avoid bringing it up at home.
6. Go for a Holiday
It can be tempting to get so caught up in remote schedules that holidays and vacations become options. A two-week or a month’s holiday can help your mind and body to unwind. Avoid carrying your laptop on vacation- it is time to stop thinking about work.
7. Create Time for Interaction
Technology has made it easy for remote workers to avoid interaction with people. In the advent of social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat, human interaction has become less important. While they are useful communication tools, nothing can replace face-to-face conversations. It helps reduce the overwhelming feeling of loneliness associated with working remotely.
8. Join a Coworking Space
Working from home sometimes you may face the creative block. Going to coworking space might be another good option. Coworking can reduce stress in remote workers by helping them establish stronger boundaries between work life and home life and providing them with human interaction which decreases loneliness since its environment is flexible. You still can do your own work but it’s not alone. At coworking space, you will also meet people from different industries and it’s the best time for networking.
Riya Sander is an inspired writer writing in several areas of expertise. With spending her years working marketing communication, Riya is delighted to work with aspiring small business owners. Apart from her marketing expertise, Riya always enjoys reading pocketbook, cooking, and traveling. Connect with Riya on twitter, @sanderriya