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Ways to Encourage Remote Employees to Relax During the Workday

Remote Employee Relaxing

Relaxation and de-stressing are two of the most important aspects of a remote worker’s day—in addition to their workload. These two aspects give employees the opportunity to unwind, clear their heads, and take a break from staring at a computer screen. Plus, studies have shown that relaxed workers and those without stress work more productively and can improve employee engagement, thus improving their efficiency. If you’re an employer who wants to find ways to encourage remote employees to relax, here are some easy-to-follow, actionable tips.

Set Clear Expectations

Clear expectations are the glue that efficient, successful organizations possess. They let each employee know their role and their duties without ambiguity, thus tying the entire organization together. Although job descriptions typically lay out the framework for a job within a company, the same document might not outline the how or when of certain tasks. That’s why you need to address the issue with well-written expectations followed up with messages.

The key here is to avoid the urge to micromanage. Instead, put together an email or outline of what you want each employee to accomplish. Not only will it allow them to get the most important work done, but it will also prevent them from stressing out about tasks that are lower in priority. As such, it’s also a great way to encourage remote employees to relax and not sweat the small stuff.

Actionable Steps: Create an unambiguous, written set of expectations for your employees and post it somewhere prominent in your online collaboration channels.



Encourage Coffee Naps

Coffee Naps

Coffee naps are the new black of the remote world. In the past, most remote workers would either down another cup of coffee or take a power nap. However, recent research from Loughborough University in the U.K. indicates that a one-two punch of both napping and coffee provides better focus, concentration, and productivity. Here’s how it works:

Pour yourself a cup of your favorite joe. Drink it. Then, go take a 15- to 30-minute nap. When you wake up, you’ll feel more alert and focused than with only a nap or coffee. The reason for this after-effect has to do with how caffeine enters the bloodstream, as well as receptors in the brain. After you drink a cup of coffee, your bloodstream absorbs the caffeine and sends it to the receptors in your brain normally occupied by adenosine. Adenosine is a byproduct produced by your metabolism. When it enters your receptors, adenosine encourages sleep, thus making you tired. However, caffeine can block adenosine out of these receptors. In addition, sleep naturally clears adenosine. Thus, with a short nap and a cup of coffee right beforehand, you can re-energize, relax, and get ready for your next work session.

Actionable Steps: To take a coffee nap, brew a cup of coffee and finish it. Once you’ve downed a cup, go take a nap. After 15 minutes, your brain is free of fatigue-causing adenosine and replaced with caffeine. Thus, you’re more alert and have more focus and concentration to get the job done.


Start Online Group Meditation or Yoga

Remote Yoga

Meditation and yoga offer relaxation techniques that are as applicable to your employees’ personal lives as it is in their professional lives. Studies have shown that just a short, 15-minute session of yoga or meditation can provide a plethora of benefits:

  • Prevention of age-related brain diseases
  • Improved attention span
  • Better focus
  • Reduction in stress and anxiety
  • Promotion of healthy habits

Actionable Steps: As a manager, you can’t force employees to participate in these activities. But a gentle nudge toward such a program will yield amazing results. If you’re a subscriber to new-age and Eastern forms of relaxation, lead the sessions yourself. If not, chances are you have a yoga or meditation enthusiast on your staff that’s more than willing to volunteer. Try to offer these group sessions at least once or more a week to promote the practice and to encourage your remote employees to relax and de-stress.


Promote an Open-Door Policy

Most stress within remote teams isn’t necessarily a product of the work itself; it’s more about how to get the work done. Without a plan or a road map to complete projects, many employees can start to stress out, making any relaxation techniques just a temporary break from anxiety instead of an ongoing, successful formula. Therefore, communication becomes key. Open-door policies not only reduce stress, but they also allow your team to express concerns and ask questions. The result is a progressive culture that allows employees’ voices to be heard.

Actionable Steps: Tell your employees about your open-door policy. You may even want to hold a meeting to let everyone know that they’re welcome to talk to you about anything throughout the workday. Not only can this help you set clear expectations, but workers can also de-stress by talking about their frustrations and how the team can more efficiently complete a project.


Be More Flexible

Although remote work provides more flexibility than traditional jobs, your company may have set hours to facilitate workflows and be able to reach people when you need them. However, a bit of flexibility can calm nerves and encourage your remote employees to relax and de-stress. For example, if an employee needs to take their kids to school at 8 a.m. and your set remote hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., allow them to start at 8:15 or 8:30 a.m. Just this small gesture enables your employee to get their day started right without the fear of disciplinary action or stress.

Actionable Steps: Have some flexibility with regard to your employees’ schedules. If possible, let them set their own schedules. This will give them the freedom to complete personal tasks while also completing their work on time. In addition, flexibility will foster feelings of appreciation with your staff, which may lead to increased engagement.


Show Your Appreciation

Not every employee needs coddling or constant votes of confidence. But showing your appreciation for a job well done is a gesture that only has positive benefits. Not only telling—but showing—your employees that they’re valued increases job satisfaction, promotes relaxation, and may even increase employee engagement.

Actionable Steps: Show your employees that you appreciate their effort. You can accomplish this in a variety of ways. A well-crafted email or instant message should suffice. If you want to take your appreciation to the next level, give your valued employee a $10 gift card or showcase their efforts to the rest of the team. Sometimes, just a small pat on the back can make a world of difference.


Host a Virtual Lunch Break

Virtual workers don’t have a standard lunch break. In fact, when they’re inundated with work, they may not take lunch at all. And while this may not affect some employees, it might have a profound effect on others. That’s why you should host a virtual lunch break. During this lunch break, you can build camaraderie between teammates, discuss how everyone is working toward a common goal, or just talk about the latest news, carefully avoiding religion and politics. Along with the chance to interact with others, your team can also take a much-deserved break from the grind.

Actionable Steps: Once a week or more, offer to host a Zoom channel for a virtual lunch break. But don’t come with an agenda. Allow conversations to flow freely and give everyone the opportunity to talk about their meal or what’s going on in their personal life.


Allow a Certain Degree of Autonomy

Micromanagement is one of the most counterproductive aspects of running a company. Workers feel as though you don’t trust them to get the job done. Plus, the micromanagement style may be off-putting to others. Remember that your employees are your greatest resources. You hired them for a reason; allow them to do what they do best.

“Micromanagement is the destroyer of momentum.” – Miles Anthony Smith, self-help guru, motivational speaker, and author

Actionable Steps: If you’re a manager that always needs to know what’s going on to a heightened level, send quick messages. Don’t look over your employees’ virtual shoulders. You can damage momentum, lose respect, or significantly reduce employee engagement. By giving a degree of autonomy to your workers, you show trust and tact.


Define Priorities

Priorities go hand-in-hand with clear expectations. Clear expectations are just the starting point. Once you’ve made your objectives and expectations obvious, you can address priorities. Without adding these priorities, your team can feel stressed about tasks that aren’t as important as the overall scope of a project.

Actionable Steps: Define your priorities in a written format so that all of your employees have access to them. These priorities should flag which tasks are the most important and should be completed first. Once the major tasks are completed, revamp your priorities to tackle the smaller, more mundane yet necessary jobs.


Embrace a Team Fitness Challenge

One office technique that’s been proven to build team cohesion and morale is a fitness challenge. Not only will this make your team more physically healthy, but also more mentally healthy and enable them to relax with their new physique. In most cases, teams have a weight-loss challenge, but feel free to make it a biking, walking, or steps-per-day contest.

Actionable Steps: Put together a team fitness challenge with a reward to the winner or winning teams. By doing so, you address the physical and mental health of your remote workers, making them more productive and more likely to relax and unwind with daily exercise.

By encouraging your remote workers to relax and de-stress each day, you set forth a habit that will make your team an unstoppable, efficient force. Not only can you handle more projects, but you can get them to clients on time and under budget. That just might be every manager’s dream come true.


Do you have any ways that you encourage your remote employees to relax and de-stressConnect with Virtual Vocations on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn to share your advice. We’d love to hear from you! 

iStock Image: fizkes, filadendron, jacoblund


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