remote workers well-being

Prioritising Well-being for Remote Workers

Having access to well-being resources has become a priority for remote workers.

In a 2021 survey by Mercer quoted in Reuters, respondents from a number of US companies acknowledged it is time to support employees by making available a range of health-related services. 76% of respondents said that the mental health of employees will be a priority for the next three to five years.

Examples of services and incentives to support mental and emotional health include subsidising the purchase of office furniture, delivery of meals at home and online classes ranging from yoga and fitness to relaxation.

30% of respondents from the survey already offer video therapy services as part of their employee well-being programme.

These types of perks are cost-effective for the employer because the price per employee is minimal.

Flexibility for Remote Workers

Harvard Business Review reported that employers are making more allowances for their remote workforce to be able to take breaks during the day. For example, workers shouldn’t be penalised for going to the gym during the day or attending a class if that doesn’t interfere with the work schedule. However, these types of arrangements may require a prior agreement. The issue of prior arrangements comes with complications because granting permissions on an ad-hoc basis may discriminate those workers who don’t actively ask for personal time, as well as it creates extra bureaucracy of granting permissions.

There is the issue of trusting the remote workers to perform and make themselves available, juxtaposed to allowing a level of flexibility that lets employees have enough breaks and have a reasonable work/life balance.

The power seems to be fairly equal between employers and remote workers as far as flexibility is concerned: on the one hand, offering flexibility to workers have proved to increase productivity; on the other hand, remote workers can choose to change jobs if they perceive the working arrangements are not flexible enough.

While flexibility is the tool to give workers better job satisfaction and increase staff retention, policies among companies differ widely and there is no common approach to ensure the right processes are in place.

Well-being Programmes for Remote Workers

Moving forward, employers can structure a whole programme about employee well-being. There are software platforms available for personalised health and wellness plans.

HR administrators manage the platform to support employees stay healthy and maintain good mental health. The platform provides remote workers with tools on a self-service basis and feeds back information to the employer about eventual upcoming risks related to the resilience of the workforce.

Examples of corporate well-being platforms include Wellable, Wellspace, LifeWorks and Vantage Fit.

While software solutions can be useful, they are only as good as the policies behind them. Company culture needs to shift from hierarchical thinking to a more collaborative model based on clear communication between what the company requires from workers to serve customers’ needs and what remote workers require to perform at their job without experiencing burnout.

Ultimately it’s all about the quality of the work being delivered.

In an ideal world, being location-independent shouldn’t come at a cost, as in the case of Google imposing salary restrictions. See also related article on mental health and remote working.