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Help Your Employees Work from Home

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The way we work has changed dramatically in recent months - and for some, this change will be permanent. Twitter recently gave its employees the option to work from home forever, while Facebook and Google have extended this option until the end of 2020. If these changes are a sign of a bigger trend in the future, many more companies will start making working from home a standard part of their business.

Remote working has many advantages, such as reducing real estate costs for companies and increasing flexibility for employees. But it also has disadvantages. More than half of workers report that they became more lonely working from home during the pandemic. Others find it difficult to maintain a work-life balance without the separation of a commute, or have more difficulty concentrating if they work from their living room instead of their office.

Given the fact that many office workers will be working from home in the long term, companies should consider how they can make distance working a positive experience. This means reducing stress factors, but also using the newly gained flexibility in the workplace to make new connections and offer new opportunities.

Six ways to improve the work experience of employees from home:

Every company is different, and the experience of the employees should also be different. When developing programs to help people work from home, be sure to get feedback from employees about their pain points and suggestions for helpful measures, and listen to them. You will build a more effective program if your strategy addresses the unique culture of your company and the specific needs of your employees. However, here are some general recommendations that any company that wants to establish a home based support program should consider.

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Report to your employees more often: Frequent and effective communication supports a healthier and more productive work environment in remote locations. This is especially important for Gen Z employees who may have just started their careers and are still learning the office standards. You may not be able to stop by every employee's desk as you could when you were all in the office, but digital solutions like video conferencing and messaging platforms can help bridge the communications gap. Just don't overdo it - some employees love frequent team check-ins, but others may find too many meetings distracting. When setting the communication frequency for your team, pay attention to the needs and feedback of your employees and don't hesitate to adjust meeting cadences that don't work.

Organize virtual happy hours and networking events: One advantage of working remotely is that it reduces physical distance. If your company's offices are spread across several states, countries or even continents, this is a perfect opportunity to bring employees together for virtual events. Informal happy hours and "Lunch and Learn" events encourage employees to connect across geographic boundaries. Even if your employees are usually all in the same physical space, they will probably appreciate the opportunity to meet and socialize informally while they are far away.

Encourage you to set limits: A set routine minimizes stress and reduces burnout, but these routines should be flexible according to the employee's needs. For example, a working parent may prefer to go online early in the morning, then spend time with their children during the day and return to work in the evening. Encourage your employees to clearly articulate these expectations so that their teammates can adapt work schedules to fit their schedules.

Support career progression: There is no reason why switching to remote working should slow down an employee's career progression - it might even accelerate it. Many industry certifications and training courses are already available online. Make your employees aware of these resources and, if possible, offer to pay any fees. Your company can also offer internal training virtually. Scale the effort by recording the sessions for future on-demand use.

Reduce the workload: Employees who have trouble getting used to working from home may feel overwhelmed by the number of tedious, repetitive tasks on their plates. In many cases, automation-driven solutions can relieve them of this work and free up their time for more demanding, creative work. However, when implementing automation solutions, be sensitive to their needs so that employees understand that the ultimate goal is to complement, not replace, their work. Invest in upgrading skills so that employees have the skills they need to take advantage of new opportunities.

Support wellness from a distance: In a recent survey, over 85% of employees said they would like more help from employers as they become accustomed to working from home. It can be concluded from this that mental health would be included in this ability to help. Even before the pandemic, more companies realized that mental health support was no longer just a "nice to have" - it was a must for forward-looking organizations. This support can come in many forms: by offering guided meditation sessions, recommending fitness apps, ensuring that the company health plan covers virtual therapy, or simply by encouraging the use of PTO for staycation to help employees cut back. Whatever tactic you choose, remember to model healthy habits by using the same opportunities yourself.

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