In September 2022, the People Mobility Allaince team, in collaboration with deel, held a discussion on the effects of remote work on employee mental health. The event marked the second in a series dedicated to exploring the various aspects of remote work. In this article, we will provide you with the key insights gained from this lively discussion.
Setting the stage: Meet the experts, moderators and attendees from the event
Moderated by Mira Pathak of AIRINC and Daniel Zinner of CLEVIS and Noah Mobility, the event features three expert panelists: Lorna Ather from Delivery Hero, Tobias Schönborn from visumPOINT and Kimberly Breuer from LIKEMINDED. The event was chaired by Philipp Krogman.
The diverse panel represented startups, SME’s and large enterprises, gave excellent insights into the needs of companies dealing with remote employees. The audience also painted a relevant picture, with almost 50% working full remotely and the remainder working on a hybrid model.
Is remote work a blessing or a curse?
Remote work has forever changed the world of work, particularly since the COVID-19 pandemic forced many companies to offer it as an option. It has offered companies the opportunity to build a global workforce and employees the flexibility to work for any organisation they want to, regardless of location.
Although working from home, hybrid models and fully remote work is now the norm for many companies, its suitability varies depending on industry, company culture and employee demographics.
It’s important to note that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to remote work. The traditional mindset that people who work from home are less productive is fading away. Many managers now recongise that remote employees can be highly productive, sometimes to the point of overworking themselves.
The challenge of maintaining a true work-life balance while being a remote employee remains a critical concern.
Our panellists explored strategies for both employees and employers to make remote work successful and establish structures that promote this essential balance.
International remote work, domestic remote work and the hybrid model
Working from home within the same country as your employer differs from working remotely from abroad. Time zone differences can significantly impact productivity and mental wellbeing.
It’s vital that employers help globally distributed colleagues to maintain good and timely communication. Virtual coffee chats, where employees are paired with colleagues they might not typically interact with, have proven to be effective in creating and maintaining a sense of belonging and company culture.
Domestic remote work often lends itself to working in a hybrid model, meaning employees still get some face time with their colleagues on office days. Many employees enjoy the flexibility of this approach where they get to combine the advantages of working from home and reduced commutes with in-person interactions.
Employers, employees and raising awareness
Society’s increasing openness about mental health issues has extended to the workplace. Kimberly Breuer from LIKEMINDED noted that although it might seem like more people are suffering from mental health issues these days, part of the truth is that the topic is now less stigmatised and people are more open to talking about their issues.
Subsequently, employers are now more aware of the need to identify signs of burnout or depression in their employees. However, this can be challenging when many interactions are primarily virtual.
How can employers help their workforce open up about their mental health?
Our panelists discussed how creating a work environment where employees feel safe sharing potential issues is essential. Managers must lead by example and start conversations about feelings and mental wellbeing. Regular check-ins that focus on non-work topics are just as crucial as HR employee surveys.
It was noted, however, that not everything can fall on the employer’s shoulders. Employees also play a role in recognising their own needs and preferences. Factors like age, prior office experiences, and personal circumstances can all play a role in the mental wellbeing of remote or hybrid workers.
3 ways to improve employee mental wellbeing
During and after the event, the audience actively engaged in conversation, raising several key points. They provided tips and ways that have helped them improve their mental wellbeing as a remote or hybrid employee. Three key points were:
Taking regular breaks to go outside or step away from the screen.
Setting boundaries in home offices, like keeping equipment in a separate room and closing the door to that room.
Ensuring that flexibility in work hours does not lead to non-stop work.
Conclusion and key takeaways
This in-person event offered valuable insights into how remote work affects both employees and employers. Attendees and experts agreed that it is encouraging to see more and more employers caring about the mental health and wellbeing of their employees.
Organisations like LIKEMINDED can play a vital role in helping improve company benefit schemes, emphasising that prevention is better than cure.
Remote work continues to evolve, with a shift in focus from compensation and compliance to softer but equally important topics like mental health. Prioritising employee mental health improves satisfaction and productivity, making employees more likely to stay loyal to one company.
7 key guidelines for success in remote work
Our expert panellists were kind enough to share some key guidelines for a successful remote work strategy with mental health as a main factor. Here are 7 ways employers can help:
- Creating awareness within the company about mental health.
- Providing effective communication tools.
- Encouraging transparency in discussing mental health issues.
- Educating employees and leadership on mental health topics.
- Encouraging leadership to lead by example, especially in remote work practices.
- Providing opportunities for various forms of social interactions on a regular basis.
- Offering continued support and assistance to employees.
The People Mobility Alliance brings together like-minded individuals who put people at the centre of their activities.
Content Sponsors: VisumPOINT, Delivery Hero, Likeminded
Event sponsors: CLEVIS Consult, AIRINC, deel, Noah Mobility