For many people, 2020 introduced them to remote work. This meant meeting deadlines, communicating with colleagues and customers and managing projects all while integrating the reality of school and community restrictions due to the health pandemic. As we know, this took a toll on the physical and mental health of our employees.
Now, nearly two-thirds of U.S. workers who have been working remotely during the pandemic would like to continue to do so (source: Gallup), which presents two interesting challenges: how can employers meet the needs of their remote workers, and how can employees contribute to their own well-being, while juggling work at home?
How can employers meet the needs of their remote workers?
It used to be that companies provided robust workplace perks and wellness programs, such as free food, wellness check-ups, challenges and access to a gym. Now, all sized businesses are being asked to offer workers remote wellness perks, such as subscriptions to meditation or yoga classes, monthly food boxes and even remote wellness challenges.
However, employee well-being is about so much more than a wellness perk, remote or otherwise. In order to support employees to thrive both at work and at home, a range of policies and programs is necessary. And it may not be as daunting as you think. Here are some suggestions:
- Flexible scheduling: Many people have left the workforce, mainly women and women of color. With the double duty that women already have in terms of their day job and then the job of childcare and household labor, women are contemplating career shifts in ways not seen before. In order to be an employer for the future, companies must figure out ways to meet the demands of life for their employees, including creative scheduling and job sharing.
- Support with childcare: From offering a stipend to help with childcare to offering resources for childcare centers, employers can play an important role in supporting employees to find quality childcare.
- Paid leave: Having access to paid time off to take care of family and medical needs is a high value benefit and can make a difference in your recruitment and retention. In addition, encourage your employees to actually take time off.
- Health and Wellness programs: As noted above, in addition to health insurance, there are a number of wellness programs that are remote accessible that can replace on site perks.
How can employees contribute to their own well-being, while juggling work at home?
Being “on” 24/7 is the most common complaint I hear from friends and colleagues that work from home. And, as noted above, a majority of people prefer to continue to work from home. So, how can employees make the experience less stressful and more productive so they can enjoy their work and their home life? Here are a few suggestions:
- Setting boundaries between work and home can help. Just because your office is your kitchen table doesn’t mean you need to work through mealtimes. Leave your phone and computer out of your sleeping area, switch off all notifications during family time and power down 30-60 minutes before bedtime in order to rest your eyes and brain.
- Get your social needs met. If you’re like most people right now, just seeing a neighbor while walking your dog can be a major event. Be sure to engage in non-zoom social activities (let’s face it, we’re all zoomed out) like a social thread on your team chat or just pick up the phone and connect with a colleague or friend.
- Seek mental health or coaching support. Depression is real and you may need mental health support. There are also different types of coaches that can help you articulate and meet your goals.
- Stay physically active. Set a goal for yourself, whether it’s 20 minutes a day or a two mile walk/run, staying physically active will keep you centered and your mind body connection strong.
- Maintain regular dental and doctor appointments. As far as it is safe to do so, try to keep your regular check ups and annual visits, as well as any vaccines or screenings needed. In New Mexico, HPV cancer screenings have decreased by 70% during COVID.
Do you have anything to add to this list? We’d love to hear from you at email@example.com.
Family Friendly New Mexico has toolkits available to help you with the workplace policies above, and if you are already implementing them, be sure to apply for the Family Friendly Business Award to be recognized as a leader in this area. Join us for a workshop on this topic on February 23rd at 12:00pm – register here, SHRM & HRCI CEUs available.
Giovanna Rossi is a results strategist and the President/CEO of Collective Action Strategies, LLC, a consulting firm dedicated to improving the health and lives of women and families through personal, policy and leadership development. Giovanna holds a Master of Science degree in Public Policy from the London School of Economics, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Spanish and Latin American Studies from the University of New Mexico. Giovanna was the first ever women’s health policy advisor for the state of New Mexico and was a women’s studies adjunct professor at the University of New Mexico. She is passionate about improving the health and lives of women and families through work-life policy, economic self-sufficiency and health for women, making sure all children are supported and thriving, and addressing gender inequities in programs, policies, and services. She is the founder of Well Woman Life™, which supports women to achieve their highest level of fulfillment and well-being and founder of the Family Friendly Business Award®. Giovanna is host of The Well Woman show on NPR One, a regular panelist on New Mexico PBS In Focus, contributor on Forbes.com and a 2018 Women of Influence honoree.