• Workplace Health & Wellbeing

A guide to supporting remote workers

Posted: 21/04/2022
Now that more employees are working remotely, it remains the business's responsibility to look after their remote workers' health and wellbeing. In this article, we explore the pros and cons of remote working, and what businesses can do to support their remote workers.
A guide to supporting remote workers

Since the whole world went into lockdown, many organisations had to change their work arrangements. Although remote working wasn't a new trend, businesses were forced to embrace remote working much more openly than they otherwise would have. Thanks to technology, businesses have been able to adapt more easily to this work set up and employees are able to communicate seamlessly online through different channels. 

But in this post-pandemic era, many believe that remote working is here to stay. In 2022, 30% of the UK workforce is working remotely at least once a week, and studies have found that 1 in 5 Brits want to work full time remotely. 

Some businesses, on the other hand, have adopted hybrid working, wherein employees spend some days working from home and some days in the office. For some employees, this seems to be an ideal work set up. According to a report from Envoy, given the option, 57% of the UK workers who have returned to the office would prefer a hybrid work model.

Whilst more businesses are gearing towards remote or hybrid working, it is important to keep in mind the pros and cons to this work set up for both companies and employees. 

Benefits of remote working

Both employers and employees benefit from remote working. Here are some of the advantages of choosing to work remotely:

For employers:

1. Increased productivity - Remote and hybrid working have shown improved productivity and performance amongst employees. A research from PwC found that 57% of businesses performed better over 12 months of doing remote and hybrid working. 

2. Reduced overhead costs - If a company goes 100% remote, they will no longer need to rent an office, which would significantly cut down costs on rent, utilities, equipment, etc. On the other hand, if they choose to do hybrid working, companies could either move to smaller office spaces or rent seats at a shared office space, which could also help them reduce expenditure. 

3. Bigger pool of talent - When hiring remote workers, companies are not limited to candidates living in close proximity to the office or willing to relocate. They can hire staff based anywhere, either locally or internationally. If they choose to hire a talent from another country, this would also mean that businesses can save on relocation costs. 

4. Employee retention - Remote workers tend to be happier as they have the flexibility and get better work-life balance, so they are more likely to stay in a job. In fact, 74% of employees say that they are less likely to leave a company that gives them an option to work remotely. 

For employees

1. Better work-life balance - Remote workers have the flexibility to schedule their day around their work and personal life. Working from home gives working parents the ability to look after their kids. Remote workers can allocate the travel time they save on other activities, such as hobbies, going to the gym, evening classes, or anything else they want to do outside of work. 

2. More savings - Going to work can be quite costly. All the day-to-day expenses add up, including transportation costs, parking, food, celebrations, gifts for colleagues, and many more. Working from home means that employees can save on these costs and have more savings.

3. Personalised work environment - Remote workers often set up their own work station at home and personalise it to suit their needs and preference. Their work set up can be designed to inspire them, and promote their productivity and creativity.

4. Less commute stress - Commuting is one of the causes of employee burnout. Traveling for more than 30 minutes each way leads to increased levels of stress and anxiety, and research shows that commuting 10 miles to work each day can lead to health issues, such as higher cholesterol, increased blood sugar levels and higher chances of depression. Hence, not having to commute to work can help improve the employees' health and wellbeing.

Challenges of remote working

Although there are several benefits to remote working, businesses and employees also experience challenges.

1. Lack of trust - With remote working, companies were found to have a lack of trust in employees - only 30% of business leaders strongly believe that their organisation has high levels of trust between the management and staff.  And because of this, many employees admit feeling anxious and burned out. 

2. Miscommunication - Remote companies communicate online via digital channels. With this type of communication, some ideas tend to get misread or miscommunicated. It's more difficult to set the right tone over chat or email compared to face-to-face communication. When miscommunication happens, interpersonal relationships within the team can be negatively affected.

3. Difficulty separating work and leisure time - Since they don't have defined working times, some remote workers find it challenging to manage their time, so they end up working longer than their contracted hours. A report by Owl Labs found that remote workers were 43% more relikely to work over 40 hours per week compared to those that go to the office. Thus, they sometimes feel that they can't disconnect from work even during their leisure time.

4. Increased need for more meetings - HR Morning suggests that employees started attending more meetings after going remote. Only 3% of on-site workers have over 10 meetings each week, whilst 14% of remote workers do.  Meetings can sometimes be time-consuming and may cause decision fatigue. This means that the quality of decisions made by individuals becomes worse after making too many decisions. 

5. Poorer health and wellbeing - Working from home can affect the employees' mental and physical health. A research by NatCen reveals that remote wokers who live alone showed a massive increase in mental distresss, while research by RSPH found that 67% of remote workers admit that they feel less connected to their colleagues. Apart from mental health issue, 48% of people who worked on a sofa or bed when at home had developed musculoskeletal (MSK) problems. 

How to support your remote workers

Despite these challenges, remote or hybrid working may still be the best option for some businesses. However, it remains the employer's responsibility to ensure their staff's health and wellbeing regardless of where they are based.

Here are some of the things employers can do to make sure their employees remain in great physical and mental state to perform at their best:

1. Set clear and realistic goals

To make sure that your employees stay engaged, make sure that they are well-informed of business decisions and given realistic goals. If they have an unclear direction, remote workers can feel disengaged, anxious and stressed out. It is, therefore, very important to work with your employees and set clear expectations to remove any unnecessary pressures they may put on themselves.

2. Regularly check-in on your employees

Many employees still do not feel comfortable opening up to their employers when work is already affecting their mental health. For remote workers, this is an even bigger challenge because they don't feel as connected to their managers and colleagues.

That is why it's important for managers to regularly conduct one-on-one with their team members and check-in on them. Above all, it's important that managers really listen and pay attention to any issues or problems their team might be experiencing. These regular one-to-ones will help build your employees' trust and help them feel more comfortable to open up about their mental health.

3. Respect break times

As remote workers normally don't have defined work hours, they have the tendency to work for long periods without a break. It's essential to remind your remote workers the importance of taking their breaks, as working for long hours without any break can impact their mental and physical health. On top of this, employees feel better and more refreshed after eating or taking a break so they can be more productive.

4. Encourage holidays

As they can already work from home, some remote workers feel the need to continue working even if they're feeling under the weather. 46% of remote workers felt more pressured to be present at work, with 35% admitting they carried on working despite being ill

To give your employees the time off work they need, encourage them to take holidays. By doing so, they can disconnect from work and have the time to relax and recharge. Afterwards, they will feel re-energised and more motivated to work. 

5. Give your employees private health cover

As mentioned earlier, workers can suffer from mental health issues and MSK injuries when working from home. However, a study by RSPH found that only 34% of employees were given mental health support by their employer. 

The health and wellbeing of remote workers may sometimes go unnoticed, but it is the employer's responsibility to ensure their employees are given the help they need. By providing your employees with private healthcare benefit like Mayfield Clinic's Business Healthcare, you can show how much you value them and care for their wellbeing. 

Why Choose Mayfield Clinic's Business Healthcare?

Why choose Mayfield Clinic's Business Healthcare

Mayfield Clinic is a world-class, family-run private health clinic that provides a unique multi-disciplinary service. It is our mission to deliver safe, caring and high-quality healthcare services that are easily accessible to businesses of all sizes.

Our business healthcare packages are designed with simplicity in mind to make sure that your organisation only invests in essential services that are beneficial for your employees.

From as little as £10 per month per employee, you can give your employees instant access to a GP, physiotherapist or mental health professional with Mayfield Clinic's Business Healthcare.

We have a range of business healthcare plans to suit the needs of both your organisation and employees, which include the following:

Essentials (£10 per month per employee)

  • 6 x 15-minute online GP appointments per annum

  • Members' rates on other in-clinic services

  • Dedicated account management

Pro (£15 per month per employee)

  • 6 x 15-minute online GP appointments per annum

  • 3 x 30-minute online Physiotherapy appointments per annum

  • Members' rates on other in-clinic services

  • Dedicated account management

Premium (£20 per month per employee)

  • 6 x 15-minute online GP appointments per annum

  • 3 x 30-minute online Physiotherapy appointments per annum

  • 3 online mental health appointments (1 x 45 initial appointment and 2 x 30-minute follow up appointments) per annum

  • Members' rates on other in-clinic services

  • Dedicated account management

Get started to give your employees immediate access to world-class private health services. You can set up your healthcare plan in minutes.

Interested in Mayfield Clinic's health plans?

Click the button below to get started and get a quote for your business.

© Mayfield Clinic Oxford 2023

Powered by Hero.