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Supporting remote workers in a hybrid working world

In recent years, the way we work has seen a massive shift from full-time office-based roles to hybrid or remote working in those workplaces where this is possible.

And employees who have this option are embracing the shift. Around 16% of the UK workforce work solely from home, while 28% are hybrid workers who split their week between home and the office. Plus, around 40% of employees had worked from home at some point in Jan-Feb 2023, with 16-24 year olds least likely to work from home, and 25-34 year olds being most likely to work from home.

However, another survey found that 96% of employees said working from home full-time or part-time was one of the most positive aspects of their job. And with average commute times taking 40 minutes, remote working has actually saved UK employees eight billion hours in 12 months.

For many, this hybrid model offers flexibility and cost savings, but it also poses new challenges. With the varying needs of different employees and management, supporting remote workers in a hybrid working world requires a different approach to communication, and collaboration.

The benefits of remote working

For employees, some of the benefits are:

  • Less time and money spent commuting, more time with loved ones and personal life

  • Higher levels of autonomy to work and prioritise tasks in the way that suits them best

  • Greater flexibility and freedom for employees to work around their home life

There are great benefits for business owners and employers as well. These include:

  • Greater employee productivity, with employees spending more time working when they’re at home

  • Lower costs, by dampening wage inflation

  • Higher employee retention, with employees reporting higher job satisfaction and being 33% less likely to quit

  • Widening the pool of potential applicants, making your business more appealing to valuable candidates from further afield or with caring commitments that you might have missed out on otherwise.

The difficulties of remote working

While remote working has many benefits, it also presents unique challenges. One of the biggest challenges is the lack of face-to-face interaction, which can lead to feelings of isolation, disconnection and eventually digital fatigue. Remote workers may also struggle more with screen time, spending a full 2 more hours than their office counterparts.

Remote workers may also struggle with work-life balance, with the lines between working and home life being blurred. 31% of UK employees feel that they do not have a good work life balance, with many of them avoiding taking “proper breaks” as they can work from anywhere in the world. See how the pressure of always being ‘on’ can affect productivity of employees.

Employers may find it challenging to manage remote teams, ensure productivity, and maintain team morale.

How are your employees managing their mental wellbeing?

17 million days taken off was due to stress, depression or anxiety. Our Mental Health Report reveals that 58% of employees are stressed due to increased workload, 29% are worried about losing their job and 64% saying work has been the main cause for poor mental health.

With remote working, employees may feel pressure to work harder than before, with burnout becoming a real threat for individuals and businesses. 88% of UK employees have experienced burnout in the last 2 years.

Cheryl Lythgoe, Society Matron at Benenden Health, said: “what is surprising is that businesses are missing the opportunity to take simple steps to help support their workforces and protect positive wellbeing at a time when many people are struggling.

“It’s harder to identify issues when teams are working remotely, so taking the time to check in with team members, holding regular video calls and company updates, and keeping people informed, will go a long way in promoting positive mental health. We also recommend encouraging staff to take regular screen breaks, exercise and promote a clear work-life balance to help reduce stress.”

There is an emergence of more creative ways to manage a remote team, and therefore important that businesses consider how they can support their remote employees and devise a strategy for the future.

Best practice for full-time remote workers 

Establishing clear communication channels

And ensure that everyone knows how to use them! Encourage regular check-ins and team meetings to keep everyone in the loop. Some of the tools essential for remote work, helping employees communicate, collaborate, and share files in real-time.

  • Collaboration tools (Slack, Microsoft Teams, Zoom).
  • Project management (Trello, Asana, and Jira).
  • Cloud-based services such as Google Drive and Dropbox.

Set expectations

Set clear expectations for work hours, availability, and deadlines. Make sure that everyone understands what is expected of them and how their work will be evaluated. This helps to ensure that everyone is on the same page and working towards the same goals.

It’s also important to provide regular feedback to remote team members. This helps to ensure that everyone is on track and working towards the same goals.

Clear boundaries between work and personal life

Employers can encourage their workforce to take regular breaks from their screen, and prioritise self-care including getting enough rest, eating well and exercising.

Scheduling downtime and nudging employees taking time off when needed. This helps to prevent burnout and ensures that remote workers are refreshed and ready to work.

Providing online training and progression

Webinars and online training can help remote workers learn new skills and stay up to date with the latest trends. You could also promote self-learning by providing access to books, podcasts and online courses.

Scheduling regular formal reviews to discuss their career progression can also help remote workers stay connected to their professional growth and motivate them to work towards their goals.

The most important part of managing remote workers is trusting your team to get the work done and provide the support and resources they need to succeed! 

Our business healthcare

Benenden Healthcare for Business provides an affordable, high quality, private healthcare solution to support all your employees. With easy setup and no exclusions on pre-existing medical conditions, we want to help make healthcare a standard of employment for everyone, rather than just a perk for the few. See how we can help you develop a healthcare solution that works for your whole business.