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No More Snow Days How the remote work reality impacts employee productivity and satisfaction-and how you can help

By Andrew Gross Edited by Michael Dolan

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Suda Yuichi/EyeEm | Getty Images

Can you recall what those glorious snow days used to look like? When we were children, we would wake up early to the exciting news that school was closed for the day and begin planning our afternoons around sledding and hot chocolate. As adults, we took joy in gaining back precious time from our dreadful commute and having the opportunity to eat lunch in the comfort of our own kitchen. Nowadays, as millions of people worldwide are still working from home, snow days have started to look different as they have fundamentally become the norm. Essentially, there really are no more snow days.

Many companies have talked a lot about the benefits of "no more snow days," as they are currently having no problem keeping their business operations at 100% with a majority remote workforce. However, they're not talking enough about the sacrifices employees, and their families make by being available 24/7. "No more snow days" means that there are essentially no more weekends, fewer vacations, and more time spent doing work and taking care of your kids. It means that you're always on, no matter where you are or what time of day. And this whole notion of no time off can take an extreme mental and physical toll on employees, which can also trickle into the workplace and impact team communication.

According to a recent survey conducted by health benefits provider Aetna International, 74% of all workers – including 88% of those ages 18-24 – say poor mental health has impacted their productivity. 84% of workers agree that their mental health is more important now than it was a year ago, while 40% of employers say they're concerned that a lack of social interaction among colleagues will have a long-term negative impact on some workers' mental health. It's clear that based on these stats, the time is now for business leaders to step up and evaluate how they can provide employees with the best possible support during this time to increase productivity, well-being, and engagement. We focus so much on the benefits of maximizing productivity with remote work, but it's time to talk about the impact it has on employees.

The question then becomes – how do we keep and retain great talent when there are no more snow days? Here are some ways companies can better support their employees' needs in today's remote workplace reality.

Mental Health Services

Just like the snow piles up around your home after a heavy snowfall, so does the work of your employees. It's important to take a step back and understand that while they do have the leisure of working from home, it can be very challenging to maintain a healthy mental state. Business leaders should do everything in their power to make the workplace a safe place for employees to feel comfortable voicing their concerns about mental health and other related topics. Offering mental health benefits, such as counseling services, webinars, additional mental health days, and stress management trainings, to name a few, can positively impact the well-being of your employees. Another great option for supporting mental health in the workplace is implementing an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), as they generally offer a wide array of services from childcare programs to legal and medical assistance.

Related: Your Work-From-Home Self-Care Guide

Technology that creates superior home office experiences

One thing is certain; having the proper technologies in place at your home can greatly enhance your overall productivity and efficiency and minimize distractions or unnecessary tech troubleshooting. However, you can't assume that your employees will know the most effective work from home technologies to purchase and how to use them. Technology consultants can work with your company to provide employees with the tools they need to perform their job duties at maximum effectiveness. This includes high-quality, advanced home office solutions, such as video and audio-conferencing systems that feature all of the software and tools they use every day. When coupled with a consultant who can come to their home and help set everything up, companies can make sure everyone is set up for success. And there are some cutting-edge home conferencing devices out there that bring a dynamic, collaborative enterprise experience to the home office.

Related: How Remote Work Will Transform the Innovation Landscape and Establish a New Kind of Entrepreneur

Remember: Phone calls are still a thing!

Since the pandemic first hit, most businesses have turned to video conferencing with Microsoft Teams or Zoom for daily meetings – but people are getting burnt out. While video calls can provide a means for delivering a true in-person-like meeting experience, it's actually beginning to do more damage than good. The constant video calls throughout the day are creating a heavy sense of fatigue amongst employees due to a variety of factors, including the extra hassle of having to look your best, constantly being stared at by meeting participants, having the distraction of multiple backgrounds on each person's video, and more. There are also technical issues that can arise, such as slow internet speed, causing lag and delays, making conversations impossible to have. By limiting the number of daily or weekly video calls, you can give your employees a sense of relief. Or you can take it a step further and try implementing "no video Fridays" to determine whether this helps increase employee satisfaction.

The reality is snow days are now a thing of the past. More companies are now beginning to plan for in-person returns to the office, but that timeline is still blurry and uncertain. It's critical to take the necessary steps to ensure that your employees are successfully set up to be as productive and happy as possible, from wherever they choose to work. Workplace satisfaction now faces new challenges and considerations in our post-COVID reality. Offering ongoing support and new technology solutions that make working remotely easier, as well as rolling out programs that keep employees incentivized, will not only help them in the long run but will help your business flourish as well.

Related: Build A Better Communications System

Andrew Gross

Director, Video Collaboration and IoT Cloud

Andrew Gross leads Crestron's video collaborations and IoT cloud business with a team of advisors to enable the future of work at companies around the globe.

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