Remote working: looking after mental wellbeing of your team

Whether it’s the ease of working in your dressing gown or cutting out your commute, remote working has definitely got its perks.

But, there are some downsides to remote working. Not having to commute to work each day can be a plus, but some workers struggle with missing interaction with teammates, or switching their laptop off at night. Remote working comes with its own challenges to consider.

There’s an important distinction between remote working and working from home (flexible working). In short, while working from home is a temporary change, remote working is instead either semi-permanent or permanent. Staying at home for the day because you don’t have any meetings? That’s working from home. Businesses and employees having to adapt so they can work away from the office on a semi-permanent basis? That’s remote working.

Here are four tips for supporting and empowering your remote team:

1. Communicate

Just because a person is working remotely, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re working on their own. You might not be able to see your team, but they’re still there, and it’s important you maintain that communication. Make sure you maintain regular contact via video calls using the likes of Microsoft Teams or Zoom, chatting via apps such as Slack, or simply talking over the phone.

If it’s appropriate, encourage your team to organise virtual coffees – it’s a great way for them to stay connected with their teammates.

2. Create a defined workplace

You don’t have to transform your home, but having a space at home that is specifically for work helps to create separation between work time and the other parts of a person’s life.

Encourage your team to put away the laptop, turn off the phone, and physically move away from their workspace once the day’s work is done. Whether they decide to go as far as having a separate office or they simply rearrange some of their furniture to define a clear office space, check in with your team and ensure they have separated their work from non-work life.

3. Cut out distractions

Whether it’s turning off your notifications or promising yourself you won’t touch the laundry until after work, reducing distractions is the key to being efficient while working remotely. Be aware that we get used to the familiar distractions in the workplace and develop strategies for dealing with these. But, the distractions at home can be different and we may find them more difficult to resist.

If you’re the manager, you might be tempted to continually check in with your team. But, put yourself into their shoes. You don’t want to bombard them with messages and put them under unnecessary pressure. When it comes to remote working, a little trust goes a long way.

Finally, keep work chat within work time. If you really must send that email outside of work hours, ensure your team know that they do not need to respond to it until the next working day, unless there is a different understanding about working ‘out of hours’.

4. Set realistic goals

Remote working doesn’t mean you should suddenly expect your team to become distraction-free workhorses. Give yourself and your workmates goals they can achieve, and credit them when they get smaller tasks done. Encourage them to also do this themselves, as they are effectively now in charge of managing their time.

Essentially, be careful not to treat your team differently just because they’re remote working. Don’t dishearten them with crushing volumes of work, make sure they know you’re available if they ever need anything, and reward them regularly for good work.

Remote working can be great, but be wary about your team working more intensely. It’s down to you to manage their workloads and instead guide them towards efficient working.

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