How is working from home impacting remote employees?
It’s been a few years since remote work first gained traction across the UK — and a lot has changed in that time.
Some companies have chosen to stick with work-from-home policies so they’re prepared for whatever curveballs might be thrown at them next. But it’s the flexibility and work-life balance afforded by remote working that’s cemented its popularity amongst modern workers — many of whom consider these benefits non-negotiable.
As a result, Buffer’s 2023 State of Work Report found that 82% of staff now work primarily from home — and 98% want to work remotely (at least in some capacity) for the rest of their career.
However, implementing these policies in the long term can be easier said than done.
Despite its perks, remote work comes with various challenges for employers, from staying on top of employee well-being to ensuring consistent productivity and engagement — key factors in remaining competitive and retaining skilled workers.
So, how can employers overcome these hurdles, ensure their remote employees are happy and healthy and stay afloat in today’s economy?
Maintaining employee well-being
Improved mental and physical health are amongst some of the most significant advantages of remote work, with employees able to use the time they would spend commuting on themselves — relaxing, exercising or spending time with friends and family.
But if we look at the statistics, it’s clear that not all remote employees love being away from the office.
Almost two-thirds (64%) of businesses surveyed by HR Dive reported that remote work had a negative impact on their employees’ mental health, with a further 83% of these respondents saying their workers felt isolated. These figures are alarming yet unsurprising, given that meaningful professional relationships and social interactions are often difficult to maintain when working from home.
Stress and isolation can cause considerable mental and physical strain for remote employees, making them more likely to take time off — or even resign. These pressures can increase staff turnover, exacerbate skills shortages and necessitate expensive hiring costs to replace staff that leave — putting strain on finances and making it harder to manage a healthy cash flow.
Still, businesses are not lacking in ways to address this problem. Holding regular virtual meetings and in-person social gatherings are just two great ways to help build bridges between remote, hybrid and in-person employees — and keep loneliness at bay.
Even if they come with upfront costs, offering these opportunities to collaborate and socialise can be priceless for businesses looking to build a welcoming company culture, ensure isolation doesn’t push employees to quit and protect their bottom lines.
Keeping up engagement
Increased engagement is another attractive benefit of work-from-home policies. That’s because remote working gives employees the power to curate their ideal working environment, which goes a long way in helping keep workers in the zone.
However, when teams aren’t in the office, many factors that ensure employees stay switched on at work — such as discussing projects with colleagues, receiving regular in-person training and participating in team-building exercises — can be lost.
As a result, employers need to keep an eye on staff engagement, as 20% of workers admit to only putting in adequate effort or doing the bare minimum as long as it’s enough to keep their jobs.
Unsurprisingly, this isn’t good news for businesses regarding output and creativity. Boredom and a lack of desire to improve or excel amongst workers can cultivate a stagnant culture, leaving companies to fall behind competitors.
Our advice? Support employee engagement by scheduling progress meetings (either online or face-to-face) and giving credit where it’s due, no matter where your employees are. You’ll encourage team members to keep up the good work (or give them a gentle nudge to step it up), and their colleagues will likely follow suit.
If there’s one thing that employers can count on when offering work-from-home policies, it’s how much remote employees get done.
Research from Finder shows that 65% of workers feel they would be more productive in a home office than a traditional one, with 75% saying this is due to reduced distractions.
Still, you can have too much of a good thing.
Many employees have taken on more tasks and worked longer hours since going remote, with several workers struggling to navigate the blurred lines between personal and professional life. And workloads have only gotten heavier as businesses attempt to cut costs by doing more in-house.
As such, 86% of fully remote employees experience burnout, linked to a higher risk of health issues and a greater likelihood of taking sick leave — both of which are bound to take their toll on businesses’ productivity and finances.
Employers can introduce weekly check-ins and awareness initiatives to help ensure staff aren’t overdoing it. But to get to the root of the problem and lighten the load on busy employees, it’s worth handing over some business-critical functions to third parties.
For example, outsourcing your credit management can help you maintain a healthy cash flow and save precious time and money. If you ask us, that’s well worth doing in the current market — no matter when and where your teams operate.