Work From Home Wellness for Distributed Teams: Top Tips to Follow in 2022
There are many of us who work remotely and sometimes, it becomes quite a challenge to manage work-from-home employees' health and wellness. This problem is especially more complicated when you have offices distributed in different parts of the world. Unknowingly, some remote employees neglect their wellness due to a lack of proper work-life balance.
While most managers are skeptical of allowing their teams to partially or fully telecommute because it may decrease their productivity, for remote employees, they are faced with the opposite. It is easy to lose track of time and most times, it is hard to step away from work when working remotely.
Although this may seem like a good thing for more productive work, it should not be encouraged. Instead, distributed employees' wellness should be the top priority for managers. A lack of routine breaks has proven to be counterproductive, as it increases stress levels and errors in judgment and execution. A study by the University of Illinois has shown that even brief diversions from a task can improve focus.
“Constant stimulation is registered by our brain as unimportant, to the point that the brain erases it from our awareness,” said Alejandro Lleras, the psychology professor who led the study. An example of this phenomenon is how most people are unaware of the sensation of clothing touching their skin. Likewise, he believes prolonged periods of focus on a task at hand can lead to declined performance.
Post pandemic, the majority of employees have realized that working from home increases their productivity. A study by Systla Patanjali and N. M. K. Bhatta found that “about two-thirds of IT employees reported an increased productivity while working from home, making effective use of the time saved from commuting, as well as to meet increased expectations.”
But how do you ensure that your remote employees are functioning at their optimum? Here are a few simple steps that you can put in place.
Top 5 Wellness Tips For Working From Home Employees
Here are five wellness tips to implement as a remote working employee.
Have a Routine:
While working at home, the lines between work and personal life can blur. Sticking to a routine can help to organize your day and dedicate time to all your activities.
Create a Dedicated workspace:
Find a space that’s free from distractions and has everything you need to fulfill your tasks properly.
Following a healthy diet, allowing time for exercise, and getting enough sleep are the pillars of good health. Even if you’re at home you should eat balanced meals, include physical activity, and have enough sleep.
Have a support system:
Although being a remote worker may become lonesome, you don’t have to be lonely. Keep in touch with your coworkers and managers, and reach out to friends and family on a regular basis to stay connected.
Take effective breaks:
As we will discuss below, taking breaks is essential for remote workers to stay productive and improve their mental health.
Not All Breaks Are Created Equal
Taking mindful breaks should not be confused as slacking off. Activities such as scrolling through social media, catching up on the latest outrageous news cycle, or venting to a coworker about a higher-than-normal workload will not yield the positive results that true breaks offer.
For a break to be productive, you should physically remove yourself from your workspace. For remote workers, having a specific area of their home designated as a workspace can make it easier for them to step out. It is highly suggested that work from home setup is provided for all remote employees.
The key is to be intentional about your break-taking. Marta Brzosko, writer of The Practical Guide to Taking Breaks at Work, describes the ideal break as something that brings you joy. She advises making a conscious choice of when to have a break, knowing the purpose of such breaks, and picking activities that align with that purpose.
As previously stated, avoid hopping from work tabs to social media tabs, and instead focus on stretching, doing the dishes, taking the dog out for a stroll, or even just hitting up a nearby coffee shop for a treat.
Finding The Ideal Rhythm
There is no one-size-fits-all recipe for how often, and how long, to take breaks from work. Not all jobs require the same level of focus or the same amount of hours. Two different people with the same position can have huge variations in how exactly they go about getting their tasks done.
The Atlantic reports that 17-minute breaks after every 52 minutes of focused work are the general sweet spot. For others, 90-minute segments of work followed by 15-20 minutes of leisure are ideal.
However long the breaks are, it’s recommended to schedule them into your calendar. Author Cal Newton said in an interview that if you don’t schedule your breaks, you might get distracted and end up spending more time than you expected. “If you know you’re taking a break in an hour, you can focus on work and enjoy the break more,” says Newton.
Each work scenario is unique, and it’s up to managers to communicate to their teams that they understand the necessity of routinely taking time to reset throughout the day. And since distributed teams work remotely, it’s important to encourage them to find their rhythm, so managers and co-workers can loosely familiarize themselves with each other’s workflow, and be flexible about it.
A Unique Benefit of Telecommuting
Having a schedule, a dedicated workspace, and strategic breaks can avoid burnout. A pivot to a partial or full remote work model can make it easier for each employee to customize their approach to productivity in their particular remote work environments.
While a traditional office is hardly accommodating to every individual's idea of the perfect break, working from home allows for activities that can be squeezed in-between moments of high focus. The remote lifestyle has the capability of staving off stress thus increasing happiness, fulfillment, and all-around remote worker wellbeing.
Distributed teams have long struggled with the question of how to make sure their employees are productive and healthy while working from home. The above tips will help you create or follow an effective wellness plan for your remote team. Even if you're not a company leader, don't be afraid to take some of these tips into account for your own well-being.
An important tip to keep in mind is making sure that your remote employees have the right IT equipment for efficiency and productivity. Faulty IT equipment can also add to the stress, burnout, and unproductive hours.