Remote work can be tricky to navigate at the best of times, but in a climate of continued uncertainty it has taken on a whole new level of complexity. The COVID-19 lockdown experience has sparked mass interest in remote employee wellbeing, as businesses seek new ways to support and stay connected to their diaspora of workers.
This remote employee wellbeing is generally understood to depend on healthy work/life boundaries and manageable workloads, being engaged and interested in your work, feeling visible, included and recognized, as well as having the psychological safety to work and participate without anxiety.
In a virtual environment, none of these wellbeing factors can be adequately gauged or addressed without the help of technology. At a time when our work and lives have never been more digital, what tools can workers and their employers use to support remote employee wellbeing?
Working too long and too hard is a common problem faced by remote employees. Without physical barriers separating you from work and home, it’s all too easy to do an extra half hour – or hour – and before you know it, you’ve worked well into your downtime. Timely is a great tool for sticking to your daily working hours – tracking all your work activity automatically and showing where you are against your weekly capacity.
It helps to keep workloads, tasks and overtime visible to managers too, so they can adjust team resources and offer proactive support – because when you’re working remotely, it can be hard to ask for help when you need it. Each employee also benefits from an automatically generated timeline of their entire work day, laying out everything they have achieved and supporting future scheduling.
Officevibe is a helpful tool for understanding employee sentiment and engagement. When you’re remote it can be harder to build strong and meaningful relationships, and feel properly integrated within an organization, so Officevibe creates an ongoing three-step circuit to strengthen remote teams and help workers feel more visible. Employees are empowered to share exactly how they feel while still remaining anonymous, which gives them an instant safe space – and because the feedback is discussed as a team, it also helps foster a culture of openness. By acting on the feedback collaboratively, employees feel seen, heard and trusted, which can give engagement a major boost.
Cognitively challenging “deep work” produces our most rewarding work experiences, giving us a huge sense of achievement and work satisfaction. But maintaining the focus to do it can be tricky for remote employees, particularly when coworkers can’t see that you’re in a state of deep work, and you’re continually interrupted by requests or questions. To remedy that issue, get Dewo, which recognizes when you enter a productive flow state and activates a “do not disturb” force field around you, so colleagues know not to contact you. Aside from blocking notifications from chat and email apps, Dewo can also automatically update your Slack availability for you. It also highlights the apps that distract you most and scores your context switching behaviors to help you build more presence in your work. In case you need another reason to love it, it also automates meeting scheduling to relieve you of one of your biggest low-reward “shallow” tasks.
Since remote employees can be more prone to stress and burnout than in-office workers, it’s important to ensure they find ways to relax, unwind and reduce anxiety. Meditation has powerful benefits for the mind and body, and the Headspace app has been shown to reduce employee stress by 32% in just 30 days – after just four sessions, it can reduce burnout by 14%. Focus is improved too, as just one session of guided Headspace meditation reduces mind-wandering by 22%. The benefits are felt collectively as well as on an individual level: according to Headspace research, after three weeks of using the app, employees report 21% more compassionate behavior, and a 57% reduction of aggression and reactivity to negative feedback.
Culture has a massive effect on employee happiness – but when you’re working remotely, it can be hard to feel part of something, or even feel that you’re recognized and appreciated. Culture amp is a great tool that gives remote employees a voice, and by combining deep dive and pulse surveys with effective analytics and action planning, it provides companies with a holistic overview of their culture, which they can then use to inform their employee strategy and promote employee wellbeing. Since Culture amp also enables remote employees to take control of their own development, it’s an empowering way to drive behavioral change and ensure employees feel visible and engaged.
Maintaining a healthy work/life balance is vital for remote workers, so it’s helpful for employees to quickly and easily know how much vacation entitlement they have; this means they can plan time off, or, if they’re feeling stressed, know they have the option of taking a well-deserved break. With Bamboo HR’s time-off calculator, employees can check their remaining time off from their phones, as well as see how much vacation they will have accrued by a certain date, allowing them to plan and look forward to future breaks. Because BambooHR allows remote employees to book time off without having a back-and-forth with their manager, it also boosts their sense of autonomy and cuts down on time wasting, giving employees more time to spend on their real work.
Peakon is another excellent tool for improving remote employee engagement. It surveys employees, analyzes their feedback, and then provides employers with the insights they need to improve the remote employee experience. Because Peakon also helps companies understand how to respond to employee feedback and increase engagement, it quickly turns feedback into real, tangible results. It’s focused on optimizing every stage of the remote employee experience – from onboarding to exit – and has been shown to help companies provide a positive employee experience, where remote workers are happier, more engaged and more likely to stick with the company.