7 Tips to Create a Happy and Healthy Remote Office
May 26, 2021
The last year has seen remote working all over the globe, and while some may be itching to get back into the office, others may be a little less comfortable with the idea or have become too well adjusted to the 20 second commute and longer evenings with the family. Or, you could be starting a new venture and don’t see the need for a physical office. Whatever the reason, we have put together a few ideas to implement to your remote office to create a healthy and happy virtual space for your employees.
Remote office 7 tips overview:
Virtual office tour
Relationship building and communication
Recognise employee achievements
1. Virtual office tour
You may be reading this as you consider yourself a remote organisation yet have a small number of your employees returning to the office now lockdown restrictions are easing. In this case, it would be a good idea to give a new employee a virtual office tour and an open invitation to come into the office whenever they wish, ensuring there is always a Health and Safety and Fire Warden present.
If you are a fully remote organisation, it will be beneficial to ensure each employee has a functioning office space and suitable equipment. Conduct a home workstation risk assessment, ensuring their display screen equipment and home environment is suitable for long-term home working. Providing your team with any necessary equipment, even something as small as a laptop stand or ergonomic mouse will ensure they are staying healthy at work.
There is plenty of government information and health and safety guidance on lone working here.
3. Relationship building and communication
Encourage informal interactions as well as professional ones. Add a coffee break into everyone’s calendar, or try downloading the Donut integration if you use Slack – Donut’s motto is to “Connect around the watercooler, anywhere” and it encourages camaraderie and collaboration within a remote environment. Your Finance Executive and QA Engineer will likely never have a reason to email each other about work, but in a communal space within a physical office, they could well have become great friends!
4. Recognise employee achievements
Recognizing achievement should be a collaborative experience. Get the whole team involved in celebrating each other’s hard work. It will boost morale and will motivate team members to root for their colleagues’ success. A positive environment within a remote team will make individuals more comfortable to reach out for help, support and improve employee wellbeing overall.
5. Employee wellbeing
Employers have a legal duty to protect employees from stress at work by doing a risk assessment and acting on it. However, the most common signs of stress in a person can typically be quite physical (acting withdrawn, unmotivated or increased emotional reactions), which will be almost impossible to notice if you’re looking at someone through a screen, or not at all. The HSE Management Standards can help identify and manage six areas of work design which can affect stress levels – demands, control, support, relationships, role and change.
There is plenty of government information and guidance on lone working and wellbeing here.
6. Manage conflicts
It may seem laborious and unnecessary, but scheduling a kick off and multiple catch-up meetings throughout a project will keep team members on the same page and limit conflict. The smallest detail may get overlooked or be deemed unnecessary by one employee and send the entire project off track, wasting hours or days of work and potentially causing resentment between two colleagues. Video meetings will enable colleagues to gauge how the other communicates and saves the unnecessary worry and upset of a seemingly blunt email. “Nipping it in the bud” is the only effective way of managing conflict, regardless of whether it’s remote or in person, a professional or personal relationship.
7. Set boundaries
Management should lead by example by displaying a healthy work-life balance, and although we’re all getting an extra hour (or two!) in bed by avoiding the daily commute, it is all too easy for the work-home lines to be blurred when you’re working from your kitchen table. It will also be harder to notice when your employees are working late if they aren’t in the office tirelessly typing away at 7pm on a Wednesday evening, so be sure to set regular catch ups and ask how they are managing their workloads. Encourage your team to physically tidy their equipment away at the end of each day if possible, to create a sense of separation at home and give them time to “switch off”.
To conclude: Communication is key
Ultimately, the most important piece of advice we can give in a remote working environment is to keep communication at the forefront of your mind. Most experts agree that 70 – 93% of all communication is nonverbal so try to focus on the different aspects of communication more than you normally would. Mutual understanding and employee’s confidence to talk to management and colleagues will ensure a healthy and happy virtual space for your team.
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