Working Remotely: 10 Ways Employers Can Support Employees

  • Labour Standards
Working Remotely: 10 Ways Employers Can Support Employees
Michelle Ann Zoleta

Michelle Ann Zoleta, Health & Safety Team Manager

(Last updated )

I­n March 2021, five million Canadian employees were working remotely. That’s approximately 30% of the Canadian workforce, a significant increase from 2016 when only 4% of people were.

With the rapid rise in online work over the past few years, many businesses have shifted to remote or hybrid environments. While there are some advantages to working from home, including saving money on commuting, working remotely comes with its own set of challenges.

If your employees live with their family or flatmates, there may be too many distractions at home. Alternatively, if they live alone, it can be isolating. In both cases, it is easy to blur the boundary between home and work and it is important for your employees’ well-being that you keep the two separate—and strive to build a workplace that advocates for a healthy balance between work and home.

What is a work-life balance?

Having a workplace that encourages a healthy balance between work and home is key to improving employees’ mental well-being. Keeping a work-life balance means not letting your employee’s job take precedence over your personal life. It means you can be productive and focused at work while not neglecting your well-being, personal interests, or social activities.

Why is a work-life balance important?

While your employees may be required to put in extra hours every once in a while, doing so on a regular basis may take its toll on your employee’s physical and mental well-being. Overworked employees are at a greater risk of burning out, being stressed and being less productive. It can also lead to low morale and an increase in employee turnover.

It can be difficult to take your mind off work when you are home 24/7, but you should avoid working past your work hours and/or on the weekends. When you are well-rested and relaxed, you will perform better and feel more engaged with your work.

Here are some tips employers and employees can follow to ensure that your company’s culture promotes a healthy work-life balance.

Be realistic about the workload

While it is important to lay down clear deadlines for your employees, ensure you also set achievable goals. It is not easy to manage remote teams, especially if you are new to working from home. If you are still getting used to managing remotely, review your strategy regularly and cut out whatever practice is not working for you and your team. Here are some ways you can monitor and boost the productivity of your remote workers.

Allow flexible hours

Although office hours have traditionally been 9 to 5, it may not be possible for all your employees to follow the same schedule. Some may prefer to start work early and some later in the morning. This does not mean that everyone on your team should start work when they please, but you should allow for exceptions depending on individual circumstances.

Check-in with your staff

Unless it is urgent, avoid sending work or emails to your staff after work hours. If you frequently spot an employee online after work hours or on the weekends, have a chat with them. Maybe they are having trouble segmenting home and work. They could also be struggling to keep up with the workload or the new remote work format.

You may need to reassess their workload, provide them with the support they need and/or encourage them to make time for self-care.

Encourage self-care

Stress can severely impact employees’ ability to take care of themselves, like getting enough sleep and exercise. Make sure that you keep them informed about mental health care resources available to them at your workplace. If you provide an Employee Assistance Program, remind your workers how to access it and what services are available to them.

Stress the importance of  a morning routine

Tell your employees to avoid checking your office email and/or internal messaging app first thing in the morning. Instead, encourage a routine like going for a run and having a proper breakfast before they log into your remote office.

Time management

Encourage employees to try to finish their work for the day within official hours. Be clear on their work priorities and break down their week into daily achievable goals. Promote health boundaries by telling them to log off their office email and messaging apps after work so that they’re not tempted to keep checking emails and messages.

Remind staff to take micro-breaks

Remind employees to take short breaks through the day. This can include stretching, walking around, getting a snack from the kitchen, or socializing with family/flatmates, or taking a lunch break where they can switch off from work.

Set up a distinct workspace

If they have enough space, tell employees to set up an office in a quiet corner of their house that they can mentally associate with being productive. The space would ideally be well-lit and clutter-free.

Advocate for after-work plans

Remind employees to strike a balance between their life outside of work by telling employees to regularly plan for relaxing activities after work that they’ll look forward to. This could include a run, walking their dog, baking something, or video calling their friends and family.

Encourage self-care

To promote employee wellness in the workplace, ensure that employees eat proper meals, sleep plenty, exercise, and stay connected with their family and friends. Get help if you are struggling with mental health due to isolation during the lockdown. Sign up for an online activity class or course you’d enjoy studying. Volunteer remotely if you are by yourself and want to feel connected to a community.

Looking for more information on a remote working policy for your business?

If you have employees working from home, it is important that you create a remote work policy for your business. Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, it is the employer’s duty to take all reasonable precautions for the health and safety of employees.

Download our remote working policy document to get started. Protect your business by having well-drafted wellness policies in place. Our HR advisors can help you create, update, and review company policies, as well as provide any advice you may need on HR, health and safety, or employee management.

To learn more about how our services can benefit your business, call an expert today at 1 (833) 247-3652

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