22 May Employees struggle with remote working conditions: how can employers help?
As remote working conditions have continued and thrived, even post pandemic, building a strong virtual workplace environment has become increasingly important. The work environment no longer solely describes the in-office workplace, it has extended into employee’s personal homes, which can be much harder to manage and regulate.
Working from home can be extremely exciting – there is no more commute, more time for family, and the opportunity to always wear comfortable clothes. Yet, workers have become more isolated than ever.
Because of all the time alone, employees have been struggling with their mental health. They have been completing tasks, celebrating, and failing all on their own. And further, when collaborating is finally required, they are faced with a 2D screen and a handful of faces they hardly know.
Further, employees have acknowledged that they are more prone to losing their focus while at home. Pets, kids, partners, televisions, social media etc. all become distractions that employees must constantly manage.
And maybe the most shocking factor of online work is that it adversely affects work-life balance. Even with the new Working for Workers Act, 2021, enforcing employers to allow their employees to disconnect from work after regular work hours; employees still seem to be tempted to continue working overtime. It is easier to mentally disconnect from work when you physically leave the office and return home. Without these habits, it can be easy to stay at the computer for several hours past what is expected.
What can employers do to help?
It is critical to encourage employees to establish a routine to better separate employees’ work and personal lives. If an employer has employed more than twenty-five employees, they are legally obligated to support the right to disconnect outlined in the Workers for Workers Act, 2021. Providing employees with uninterrupted personal time, away from their phones and computers is extremely helpful for building boundaries when working from home. Even if an employer has less than twenty-five employees, encouraging this concept could be useful to reduce burnout and keep employees motivated for longer periods of time.
Employers could also schedule regular meetings with their employees. Meeting virtually in large groups can feel depersonalized and fall flat. An employer could take the time to meet with employees individually for updates and feedback that may be important for the employer to consider. Even though the meeting is still online, having a sincere employer-employee conversation could generate trust and build a relationship resembling one that could be built in person.
The employer could establish great outlets for employees to practice their health and wellness. Sitting in front of a screen on a regular basis can be draining and having easier access to an active lifestyle could greatly influence the state of an employee’s mental health. The employer could plan team activities, pay for gym memberships, provide discounted therapy etc. Increasing the accessibility and convenience could offer greater incentive for employees to participate in this lifestyle.
Lastly, employers should be more flexible about breaks and vacation days with remote workers. It is easy to think that employees working from home have more time off than in-office employees. However, as stated above, it is harder to separate work and personal life when an employee can be at their work computer at any time of the day. Recognizing this battle and encouraging time off can be great for a guilt-free reset.
If you are an employer who requires assistance drafting new policies for remote working conditions, please contact KCY at LAW by filling in an online consultation request or contact us by phone at 905-639-0999 to book your consultation today.