For some, the rapid shift to working from home has been a blessing but it has been a curse for others. Remote work is now part of our reality and it is here to stay so it’s important for managers to take early initiatives to mitigate the negative effects of remote work, such as isolation and loneliness.
Although employees working from home are often isolated from their teammates, facilities, and prospects, they can be motivated and productive when working from home if they are provided with the accessibility, knowledge, tools, and equipment they need. As a manager, you can’t predict how your staff will respond to remote work so establishing effective communication is key.
Factors linked to employee isolation
The number of employees working from home has risen dramatically since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak. This detachment of coworkers due to physical barriers has led to more individuals feeling as if they do not have pals at work. This has resulted in employees feeling less committed or engaged (source).
Loneliness has negative impacts on an employee’s wellbeing and performance. Some company executives argue that a combined workplace fosters human connectivity in ways that are difficult to replicate in an online work environment. Leaders can help today’s workers cope with excessive pressure and feelings of loneliness by optimizing communication and organizing virtual team buildings.
Regular social encounters have been found to improve people’s mood and the emotional connection between them. The consequences of loneliness and social isolation should not be underestimated, as feelings of isolation can have detrimental effects on people’s mental and physical well-being if left unaddressed. Isolation can be prevented by helping your staff connect with the people and services they need.
With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, certain individuals developed an unhealthy relationship with their home office area. Since work is always in the background, they feel compelled to overwork themselves.
How do you fight isolation working from home?
Here are key tips to fight isolation while working from home:
- Morning routine
- Establish a separate home office area
- Socialize and communicate
- Take breaks
- Regulate your sleep
1. Morning routine
It can be tempting to spend all day in your pajamas, but this can seriously impact your productivity. Changing your attire acts as a reminder that you are awake and ready to get things going. Remember that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and that since you work from home you can treat yourself with something nourishing. Remote workers that establish a routine that works for them feel more motivated at work!
2. Establish a separate workspace
One of the most difficult aspects of working remotely is separating your professional life from your personal life. If you are accustomed to coming to the office every day, the boundary between work and home is tangible, and you should attempt to replicate that at home with a dedicated physical workstation.
Even if it is tempting to work from bed, strive to set up a workplace where you can focus entirely on your job. Even if you are only using a tiny portion of your house for your business-related activities, setting defined work and personal life divisions will help you work more effectively.
3. Socialize and communicate
If you’re not used to working remotely, you will experience some ups and downs. Direct communication with your team is essential to overcome these stumbling blocks, and you’ll be surprised by the positive impact a simple online meeting with coworkers can have. You will face hurdles while working from home, which can vary depending on your tasks and business activity. Don’t be afraid to seek out the help of people you typically turn to for support, even if you are not in the same location.
The rhythm of work-life breaks when you start working from home because you experience less informal social encounters. It’s important to keep socializing with your colleagues and friends throughout the COVID-19 pandemic without letting social isolation take over. Take some time for virtual meetings and catch up!
4. Take breaks
A shift of pace, view, and some fresh air can help you clear your mind. An extra dose of sunshine and light, as well as a glimpse of nature, can help you feel more connected to your environment, less lonely, and improve your mood. We recommend breaking projects or complex tasks down into individual, achievable chunks, and praising yourself when you complete a task. Here are examples of possible rewards:
- Eat a fruit
- Freely navigate the Internet for 15 minutes
- Socialize with your pals through online meetings
- Engage in meditation
5. Regulate your sleep
Sleeping well significantly impacts your general health, especially your capacity to work efficiently from home. Watching screens late at night, despite how enticing it may be, can disrupt your sleep habits and make it harder to stay focused at work. You can establish a sleeping routine to make sure you have enough energy to face your days at work!
Working from home tips to avoid isolation and loneliness
Here are working from home tips to avoid isolation and loneliness:
- Reward your remote employees with incentives
- Promote connectivity
- Organize company events
- Reach out to remote workers
- Use team collaboration tools
1. Reward your remote employees with incentives
Put in place benefits for your remote workers the same way you do for on-site staff, such as coffee vouchers, free meals, or access to a gym. Consider providing remote employees with a small allowance to compensate for the cost of a comfortable and practical home office area. These small gestures demonstrate that you care about the wellbeing of your staff.
2. Promote connectivity
Team leaders may leverage technology to create virtual hangouts and conduct online meetings using collaboration tools so that remote employees feel a sense of belonging. Businesses should leverage different communication channels to optimize connectivity!
3. Organize company events
An annual event is a must to foster a positive work culture. Humans require social touch, so planning a gathering with opportunities for development, interaction, entertainment, and networking will improve teamwork and make sure remote employees are more aligned with the company’s goals and values.
If the COVID-19 public health regulations make it impossible to meet in person, virtual team building events should be considered as alternatives. A virtual team building is an activity that leverages technology to virtually bring employees together thanks to fun, collaborative and unifying concepts.
4. Reach out to remote workers
Always be open and listen to your staff. Ask questions like:
- What has been the most challenging, annoying, or surprising aspect of working remotely?
- What assets, resources, innovation, or expertise would help you do your work more efficiently?
- How can I assist you in boosting your productivity?
5. Use team collaboration tools
There are various tools and platforms that you can use to increase employee engagement and productivity. Video meetings, text messaging, and phone calls can all make a difference. Encounters help teams connect and exchange ideas. There are different types of team collaboration tools depending on your business needs. For example, Asana helps businesses track the progress of projects and delegate work.
Virtual Team Building activities
Virtual team building activities improve employee morale, strengthen company culture and help teams work more efficiently. To break the isolation of employees working from home, one of the best solutions is team building.