Anjan Pathak June 22nd, 2020

Understanding and Addressing Stress during Remote Working

remote work stress

There is something different about this pandemic infused remote working stint all across the globe. For starters, everyone is working from home, and most importantly people are being forced to work at home/remotely due to the prevailing circumstances.

While remote working seems to be a great idea(and it is!), a mass and forced remote working stint is bound to take a toll on many professionals. Add into the mixture the ingredient of the pay cut and you have got the perfect recipe for stress during remote working.

Let’s look at some ways of understanding stress during remote working and what we can do to deal with them.

Socially Remote

This is one of the biggest drawbacks of remote working and often the biggest player in increasing stress in employees. According to a survey conducted by, Buffer, Loneliness was the biggest struggle in remote working.

The lack of social interaction often takes a toll on the mental health of employees and this deteriorates both their standard of living and professional performance. The biggest problem with the employer, in this case, is that since the affected person is working remotely, it is difficult to identify such problems let alone find some sort of solution for it.

What can employers do?

To deal with a mental health issue is always a tricky issue for employers. But there are a few steps they can follow to make sure things don’t go out of control.

  • Proper and regular communication with your employees is the key. Most employees don’t tend to speak up about mental frustrations and social exclusion to their employers. You need to break the ice here and make sure that there are open conversations in your organization.
  • Organize frequent and periodic meetings for all employees in your organization. This makes sure that employees working permanently remotely have a chance to interact with their colleagues. This also helps in creating a great bond between your employees.

Burnout

Wait, isn’t remote work supposed to be the antidote to burnout? In most cases it is but sometimes things tend to go a bit haywire.

From our experiences, we have identified two ways in which remote employees can face burnout.

Firstly, since employees aren’t on-site, they feel the need to show their commitment to the organization. This leads to employees going overboard and working longer and harder than other employees.

Secondly, since employees are working from home, their managers and employers tend to overload them with work well beyond the working hours. Since employees never “leave” their working stations, it is not uncommon for them to receive after office hours work.

What can employers do?

  • The biggest step employers can take is respecting the routine and work hours. The culture of not giving tasks and work after office hours should be practiced in your organization. This makes a great case for your employer brand as well.
  • Employers should make sure that they acknowledge the efforts of their remote employees. This boosts the confidence of the remote workers and acknowledges the fact that their work is being held in high regard and doesn’t have to jeopardize their mental health to deliver great output.

Lack of Resources

It doesn’t come off as a big surprise that remote workers often face problems in their day to day activities due to lack of resources.

This lack of resources can range anywhere from lack of a proper system to the proper access of a document. This often leads to employees not being able to meet their deadlines. This further leads to an increase in frustration and stress. They also end up feeling neglected and invaluable to the organization. This slowly, but surely, takes a toll on the mental health of the employees.

What can employers do?

Employers can make sure proper communication between various departments happens seamlessly with the remote employees. They should also prepare a checklist of the proper system requirements of the employees and bridge the gaps.

Overall, a channel for proper and effective communication can act as a great way to resolve various gaps in the allocation of resources.

Improper Onboarding

Onboarding is a real headache for every human resource department. Add into the mix a remote and online onboarding process, the difficulty goes to a whole new level. This finally leads to an improper onboarding experience for the new remote employee.

This becomes really stressful and frustrating, especially for people without experience. Employees end up not getting a clear understanding of the work process and various other nuances related to their job. It also becomes difficult to reach other team members. This leads to a really stressed out a few months.

What can employers do?

  • Employers need to create a culture of constant feedback loop. New employees should find it easy to provide feedback about their work. You can create feedback surveys and get insights into the proper onboarding process of the new employees.
  • Conducting an informal meet-up session before the actual onboarding process will increase the efficiency of the onboarding process. An informal meet-up session will encourage peer to peer mentoring which will be a savior for the new remote employee.

De-Stressing

We cannot avoid stress. What we can do is minimize their occurrence and try to find ways to de-stress.

Working on-site provides you various opportunities to relax and de-stress. Be it the regular water cooler chit chat or a small stroll with colleagues during the lunch break.

But working from home or working remotely adds another layer of complexity because of the lack of proper ways of de-stressing. Suddenly remote workers start craving the boring office party they once hated.

What can employers do?

Employers need to encourage both their onsite workers and remote workers to de-stress and take a break. But it’s easier said than done in the case of remote workers. Here are a few ways in which employers can motivate their remote workers to de-stress.

  •  Encourage workers to improve their physical health. Motivating employees to work-out can have a really great impact on the mental health of your employees and finally lead to an increase in productivity and efficiency. You can even conduct virtual group activities where employees can do a mini 7 minutes workout together.
  • Employers should conduct webinars on the importance of mental health. If that is not really feasible, then you can at least educate your employees regarding certain help-line numbers or agencies which cater to de-stressing and resolves mental health issues.

Everyone goes through stressful periods at some point or another. Employers should be able to correctly identify any strange change in behavior in their employees. One easy way to achieve this is to monitor the outputs of your employees. If there is a substantial decrease in the output of an employee then maybe employers can have a friendly chat and try to figure out the issue.

Mental health is a serious issue and probably the most impactful aspect that affects the output of an employee. Improving the mental health of your employees not only de-stress and improves their quality of life, but also increases productivity and efficiency in your workplace.

Read: How to create a work from home environment that ensures productivity yet is flexible enough to withstand an uncertain future.

Anjan Pathak

Anjan Pathak is a Co-founder and CTO at Vantage Circle. Anjan is an HR technology enthusiast, very passionate about employee wellness and corporate culture. He is an avid reader and likes to be updated in the latest know-how of Human Resource.

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