According to a Gallup study, almost 60% of Americans want to work remotely as much as possible. Although the home office has led to many positives, like work-life balance and cost savings, little is being done to tackle the sense of alienation that comes with working from home.
While the terms “isolation” and “loneliness” are used interchangeably, loneliness is emotional, while isolation is structural. Here’s how employers can address both issues in the workplace.
Remote teams are typically cut off from in-office teams or are placed in their own virtual bubble. Managers can fix this problem by hosting live-project drop-ins, setting up employee-led chat rooms for team round-ups, or celebrating an employee’s accomplishments with everyone.
Feedback is an essential part of the employee experience. You can offer feedback by gifting physical plaques, like this year’s service awards from Successories, or sitting in for one-on-one progress meetings. Active communication can help all employees feel a part of the team.
Both introverted and extroverted employees won’t want to interact with you or their coworkers often, and that shouldn’t be a problem if they deliver exceptional work on time. Forcing people to become social butterflies will only cause resentment, anxiety, and poor company culture.
If your quieter employees don’t contribute to meetings often, ask them in private what would make them feel more comfortable. Don’t address these problems publicly, as you may isolate them further. Try to create low-stake opportunities that help the entire team build connections. According to Helene Melby Brodersen – Head of PR, Brand & Communication at Eco Online
, “One of the best ways to prevent depression and anxiety is to establish a routine of regular communication, exercise, sleep, and diet.”
If your on-site workers have access to task documents, but your remote team doesn’t, that’s going to cause more than isolation issues. When employees aren’t “in the know,” they’re more likely to lose out on opportunities to contribute, duplicate projects, or not understand what to do.
Hybrid teams can benefit from using digital project management tools, like Asana or Trello, because they can map out tasks from a distance. What results is visibility across teams, collaboration between departments, and a reduced feeling of alienation in your workplace.
A recent study found that 60% of employees who work from home feel guilty about taking breaks, and 66% are frequently worried about their productivity. Remote workers often feel they don’t deserve breaks, even though they often work harder than their in-office coworkers.
Since remote workers are “all work and no play,” they often feel cut off from their coworkers or that they don’t have enough time to socialize with them. Employers can remedy this issue by scheduling coffee breaks and lunch meetings, where employees are free to go off-topic.
It’s difficult to expand your professional network when working from home, especially when remote employees get little to no face time with their peers. If employers are concerned with the results of the project and not the individual, they may overlook individuals as a consequence.
Most of your remote employees have under-utilized skills or talents that may go unnoticed. However, if you have rich profiles on your intranet, you’ll be able to put your staff on more projects. Plus, you can facilitate employee growth through cross-training and mentorship.
Since work from home staff don’t technically have a start and end time, they may feel pressured to increase their output. This pressure is exacerbated when other employees, remote or otherwise, are expected to compete with each other, causing this vicious cycle of one-upping.
Employees who feel they have to work longer hours to keep up will feel cut off from their family and friends, making loneliness even worse. For this reason, employers need to encourage unplugging and scheduled stopping points so all employees achieve a better work-life balance.
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