Working remotely has its downsides.
Although many are ready to argue with this point, it’s been reported that around 70% of remote workers are feeling isolated. This, in combination with a steady rise in hybrid and remote practices in the past few years, is already cause for concern.
As a company, we love the perks that hybrid work gives us. Ever since WaySeven was founded, the option of flexible work hours and locations has been a core part of the company culture. It’s given us so many opportunities to help our employees – whether they wanted employment that still let them complete their academic endeavors or just enjoyed more freedom when it comes to working while traveling.
The perks only seemed to increase when the pandemic started. Apart from the upsides of having flexibility and freedom, hybrid work methods were also our main tool for dealing with the social distancing rules. Transitioning into a mainly work-from-home model went relatively smoothly, and we’re still going strong two years later.
Who can forget the “bake your own bread because the end is nigh”
phase of the pandemic?
Now, despite the ease with which we managed to handle the logistics of hybrid work, there were still some tension points. One of the main issues that keeps coming up is the lack of community – as a company that puts a lot of stock into the team culture, it was important for us to have our employees feel included and supported.
Oh, but that’s a strictly managerial issue, you might say. It has nothing to do with mental health!
That’s where you’d be wrong.
You see, remote work has been a subject of many mental health discussions in the past 600 days. No matter if you’re an extrovert or an introvert, the interactions you go through with other humans play a significant role on your overall wellbeing.
When your mobility is limited, such as when you work from home, the long-term consequences can be more serious than it appears. With no need to go out, you’ll happily stay in pajamas all day. Your physical activity will be limited to the bed – work station – kitchen triangle. Your mental activities will be focused on the information you get from a screen, and this will also be the limit of the majority of the sensory stimulation you’re receiving.
Adding a little creative fun to your day can mean so much.
The WHO has issued some recommendations for the improvement and upkeep of mental health when isolating in general. Things like regular physical activity (like walking, some stretches and home exercises), communication with loved ones and a healthy diet can definitely go a long way – but they’re not always easy to keep up by ourselves.
A company that values the upsides of hybrid work methods needs to understand that the tools it gives its employees should work both for the improvement of work management and the improvement and upkeep of mental and physical health of each individual.
Let’s talk about the feeling of being lonely or disconnected in the workplace, for example.
For all of us working full-time, the workplace is where we spend a large portion of our waking hours. The people we interact with and connect with during that time are very important – they help us gain a sense of community, acceptance and support.
When working remotely, interactions between coworkers are significantly reduced. Suddenly, the people you might be used to seeing every day are limited to a daily zoom call and some chat interactions. No matter how much we want them to, memes can’t make up for a casual coffee break.
A good time-management practice is to include casual meetings, such as happy hour video calls or occasional team-building events into the calendar. Team members will feel more connected and supported if they have consistent communication channels and know when and whom they can rely on for help. Team leaders with solid time-management support are more likely to dedicate their time to reaching out to those they don’t talk to often – without constant administrative stress, it’s more likely that personal needs will also be given the appropriate attention.
We are lucky that there are methods of dealing with some of the potential mental health problems that might arise from the isolation of remote work. We’ll talk more about the tools for time management next time, and you can read up more on the upsides of hybrid work here.