Between an exodus of workers from the office to the home office, fear of COVID, and other mental health issues resulting from the strange year that was 2020, wellness has become a true buzzword. And while the word can elicit an array of thoughts for an employer, the idea has been around for decades. Health insurance, employee wellness fairs, and gym memberships have long been part of the attempt at employee wellness programs. But in 2020 and beyond, an outlier emerges that few employers were prepared for: remote employee wellness.
COVID vaccinations show promise and a push toward normalcy in the workplace and personal life. But even experts have their reservations. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, claims that herd immunity and a return to life pre-2020 is still at least a year away—toward the end of 2021 or the beginning of 2022.
Virtual Vocations Remote Work Wellness Survey Report 2020
Employers must focus on a holistic approach to remote work rather than base their employee work policies on a return to the office. And that’s what makes remote employee wellness so integral. By focusing resources on remote employee wellness activities and programs, employers can build employee engagement and morale that’s vital to operational success. To position themselves for a better year in 2021 and into the future, here are some wellness activities and ideas backed by evidence from the Virtual Vocations Remote Work Wellness Survey 2020.
For more information on the Virtual Vocations survey on remote employee wellness, check out the link below.
Quick Insight Into the Importance of Remote Employee Wellness
As mentioned above, the importance of remote employee wellness cannot be understated. It’s the source of impassioned performance, the links between cohesive teams, and the difference between being a faceless employee and an included member of a tight workforce. So what benefits do remote employees experience? Here are some intriguing findings from the Virtual Vocations Remote Work Wellness Survey 2020.
- 91.21% of respondents who experienced increased efficiency and productivity at work in the last six months also engage in at least one wellness activity.
- 91.69% of professionals who prioritize establishing a clear separation between personal and work time are highly engaged in wellness activities.
- 64.55% of respondents who experienced increased productivity also take scheduled breaks.
- 34.64% of respondents who say they were more satisfied with their careers in the last six months also report they regularly interact with co-workers on a social level.
- 94% of respondents with good relationships also eat well, exercise, meditate, and/or get enough sleep.
In addition to these telling stats, respondents also stated that the top remote employee wellness programs included:
- Eating mostly healthy meals
- Getting enough sleep most nights
- Exercising regularly
But these aren’t the only types of remote employee wellness activities to encourage. Instead, you can build upon these ideas while instilling recommendations of your own—all to construct the most involved, engaged, and productive team possible.
Only the most hardcore gym rats have hopped back in the gym since COVID began. But for even for the diehard fitness fanatic, wearing a mask while working out isn’t a great idea—it’s even been widely opposed by the World Health Organization. So while a gym membership would’ve been a great perk in the past, employers must now become a bit more innovative.
Fortunately, you still have plenty of options as an employer. Numerous companies have filled the void in the remote gym industry or built their product lines to accommodate remote employee wellness fitness programs, including:
To appeal to the remote worker even more, these are also “smart” products. This incorporates wearable media to monitor heartrate, calories burned, and more—an ideal choice for tech-savvy teams.
Why You Should Encourage Exercise
Exercise is an integral part of any healthy lifestyle, but remote workers often suffer from far more sedentary lifestyles. As a result, they’re less prone to work out regularly. But if you encourage exercise as part of a remote employee wellness initiative, you can reap a number of benefits:
- Improved neuropsychological functioning/brain activity
- Enhanced productivity
- Better sleep quality at night
- Combat fatigue and reduce the 2:30 crash
- Better mood and perceived euphoria post-workout
2. Separate Work and Personal/Social Life
The thin, veiled line between work and personal/social life as a remote worker is a constant concern. Interestingly, this work-life balance is exactly why many workers choose a remote career. The unfortunate aspect is that they don’t take advantage of it. Thus, the line blurs between employee and parent/friend/individual to the point of personal and professional ambiguity.
So to help remote workers—especially new ones—overcome the obstacle of work-life balance and stability, encouraging a separation of work and personal lives is essential. As an employer, you have many ways to achieve this, including:
- Encouraging regularly scheduled breaks throughout the day
- Giving extra flexibility to allow workers to attend family functions or events
- Setting work hours, which may work for some individuals, but perhaps not as well with contractors or freelancers
- Focusing on a results-oriented workplace rather than the number of hours worked
- Volunteering programs
Why You Should Encourage Work-Life Balance
The separation of work and personal/social life has show benefits not only in remote employee wellness, but also for hybrid or onsite employees. Some advantages of implementing such a program are:
- Breaking the illusion of control
- Improved engagement and overall happiness
- Better mental health
- A possible improvement in problem-solving and critical thinking
- More success as an organization
3. Connect With Managers and Co-Workers
“Remote managers who invest in the well-being of their teams and deploy good communication skills can positively impact the lives and futures of their employees. 52.50% of respondents who state they communicate well with management regarding job responsibilities also say they receive enough support from their managers and co-workers. Comparatively, only 17.50% of respondents who report positive job-related communication with management say they do not receive the workplace support they need most of the time.”
Social interaction between co-workers is problematic in the remote world. In some instances, co-workers don’t have the means to communicate naturally or in real-time. In other scenarios, such interaction isn’t encouraged or promoted. And while this isn’t exactly a problem for larger teams or those across different time zones, the human need for communication is common, even among remote workers. So as a manager or employer, bringing back the virtual water cooler or adding in some online activities is an excellent addition to remote employee wellness.
Some tips to help you boost the interaction between co-workers might include:
- Virtual holiday parties
- Online collaboration tools such as Slack, Asana, Microsoft Teams, Monday, etc.
- Regular entertainment such as trivia nights, bingo, or cocktail hours
- Company-wide recognition for the achievements of individuals, teams, or departments
Why You Should Encourage Connection Between Remote Workers
Remote work has well-documented notoriety for breeding loneliness and isolation—two of the most melancholy feelings a human can experience. When an employee feels isolated or otherwise trapped behind a screen, their performance falls as a result. So the more you can bring people together outside of work-related topics, the better your chances of remote employee wellness succeeding in an overall capacity.
4. Eat Right
Eating right as a remote worker is more difficult than it seems despite distinct advantages. You’re not pressured into fast food or unhealthy snacks by co-workers. You don’t have to eat at your desk (if you don’t want to). And you can take that lunch or snack just about any time you want.
But the reality is that remote workers tend to have poor eating habits simply due to the blurred lines between work and social life. If you’re not being monitored, are you stealing from the company by cooking a healthy meal during the workday? Or do you have concessions about when to work, what’s acceptable during virtual hours, and more? Unfortunately, many companies have no policy regarding this, despite the obvious upsides of healthy eating. As a result, employers may want to provide a few ways to encourage healthy eating without cutting too much into productivity. Some ideas might include:
- Buy employees memberships or give discounts to ingredient-and-recipe meal kits from companies such as Blue Apron or HelloFresh
- Send water bottles (even with the company logo for promo purposes) to encourage hydration
- Hold online cooking competitions for the “healthiest dish” (in terms of appearance)
- Provide “meal schedules” to help your employees set out a food itinerary for the week, as this will encourage healthy eating without taking time away from work each day
Why You Should Encourage Eating Right
Getting your employees to eat right is more than just lowering the cost of your health insurance. It plays a pivotal role in employee morale and productivity, as well as showing employees that you value their well-being. By implementing an “eat-right” program or initiative, you can make sure that your employees remain healthy. In addition, they’ll also stay productive at their job—a win-win scenario on both sides of the equation.
Remote Employee Wellness Is the Key to Future Success in the Digital Age
Although some employers are eyeing a return to the office in the near future, the ongoing use of virtual work arrangements appear steadfast. Thus, employers must plan accordingly without rushing in any single direction: flexibility is key. Furthermore, remote employee wellness should be a substantial part of these future plans, especially as uncertainty reigns. But this shouldn’t seem like an arduous task.
With the proven benefits of remote employee wellness, employers should view such activities and programs as a boon to their productivity, profitability, and financial performance. In the future, such a trio of business benefits may become even rarer than it is in a COVID-era world. So as an early adopter of wellness programs, you will not only earn a competitive advantage, but you’ll also have a healthy, happy, and engaged workforce.
Do you have any remote employee wellness programs at your remote business? Or have you suggested any remote employee wellness activities that have boosted morale and engagement? Connect with Virtual Vocations on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and YouTube to share your thoughts and advice. We’d love to hear from you!
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