Remote Work Anxiety is Real. Here's How to Help Employees Who Have It.
Remote work anxiety is on the rise as people spend more of the workday at their home office. Here's what you can do to help employees facing these mental health issues.
The increasing popularity of hybrid work models has produced an unexpected consequence: remote work anxiety. Many employees say that working remotely leaves them feeling lonely, stressed out, less motivated and ultimately leads to lower levels of productivity.
A recent survey by InsurTech company Breeze found 47% of remote workers are experiencing remote work anxiety as their coworkers return to the office. This anxiety is caused by many factors — including a fear of missing out, imposter syndrome and plain old burnout.
Sixty-six percent of remote workers with remote work anxiety said it impacts their overall productivity, while 54% said remote work anxiety makes them feel exhausted, lethargic or have difficulty sleeping. Some of the employees also said they get depression, irritability, sadness and/or panic attacks as a result.
Because 25% of respondents say their remote work anxiety only began once their colleagues started returning to the office, the problem may get bigger as many companies transition to a fully hybrid model moving forward.
These statistics are certainly cause for concern if you’re building a hybrid or fully remote work model. But, there are several steps you can take to reduce remote work anxiety at your company and create a healthier, more productive workplace for your remote team members.
Give positive affirmation
Giving positive feedback to your employees may be the easiest way to help combat remote work anxiety. Forty-seven percent of employees with remote work anxiety say their anxiety stems from concern their employer will think them lazy for choosing to work remotely. In response to these feelings, remote workers may overcompensate by taking on extra projects or working later hours.
Simply acknowledging the work your remote employees are doing and expressing your appreciation or satisfaction with their work could go a long way toward easing remote work anxiety.
You could also consider scheduling one-on-one check-ins with your remote workers to talk about their workload. This is a great opportunity to reassure your employees that you’re not judging them for their choice to work remotely and add in some positive feedback while you’re at it.
FOMO, or fear of missing out, is another commonly cited reason remote workers experience anxiety. One of the best ways you can help reduce remote work anxiety stemming from FOMO is to make sure your remote workers stay involved in the conversations happening at the workplace.
Although important conversations pop up naturally at the office, and remote workers will inevitably miss out on some of the action, there are steps you can take to make sure your remote employees are in the loop.
Keep in contact with remote team members on casual messaging platforms like Slack or Microsoft Teams for a quick and stress-free way to let your remote workers know you haven’t forgotten about them.
Another way to help reduce FOMO among your remote workers is by continuing to host virtual social events. Zoom calls don't always need to be formal work meetings. Informal online gatherings will give remote employees the chance to socialize with colleagues and give everyone a way to catch up on recent happenings.
If your remote employees are in the area and comfortable with meeting up in person, consider hosting socially distanced, in-person events to provide a safe opportunity for remote workers to participate in community building activities and boost feelings of inclusion.
Respect personal boundaries
Another reason remote workers are suffering is they may feel they lack work-life balance. The line between work and personal life can be easily blurred when working from home, and one of the best ways to support remote workers struggling to keep work-life balance is to respect the boundaries they’ve created to separate their job from the rest of their lives.
Communicate with your employees about what those boundaries look like, talk about the times of day they are generally available to work, and review any black-out times or dates that they prefer not to be contacted.
Another way to show your employees that you prioritize their personal well-being and boundaries is to make mental health days a standard practice at your company. Offering mental health days and making them a normal part of your company culture shows team members you care about their well-being and encourages a healthy work-life balance, especially for remote workers who may be struggling with feelings of inadequacy or imposter syndrome.
Offer health benefits with therapy
Offering mental health services as a part of your health plan is perhaps the most comprehensive way to support the mental health of your remote workers.
Breeze’s survey found that 67% percent of those who sought professional help did so with the help of their employer’s health insurance plan. This means employees who have therapy covered by their health insurance will be more likely to seek the help they need and take proactive steps to address their mental health.
While plans that provide mental health services may be more costly, they can pay for themselves in terms of employee productivity and motivation.
Offering these benefits also demonstrates that your company cares about its employees’ mental health and goes a long way toward proving that you have your employees’ best interests at heart.
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