Now more than ever, it’s important for companies to take their employees’ mental health seriously.
Here, you’ll find:
- How mental health affects employees
- The connection between mental health and telework
- Quotes from remote HawkSEM team members
- Tips to help employees succeed remotely
It doesn’t take much Googling to find plenty of evidence that shows remote work — also called telework — can benefit employees’ mental health. (That’s good news for us here at HawkSEM, since we’ve been an all-remote team for years.)
Working at home can feel isolating, sure, but it doesn’t have to be. When companies are thoughtful about fostering team connection, keeping communication open, and having expectations clearly stated, it turns out remote teams can not only survive, but cause a company to thrive.
Here are just a few ways remote jobs help nurture employees’ mental health.
Better life-work balance
Work-life balance and commute-related stress are two of the top factors that make people want a job with flexible options. That’s according to a Mental Health America survey conducted with FlexJobs.
It’s no secret that employees who feel like they can properly manage their work and home life are happier employees. And happier employees tend to stick around, meaning less turnover and a more bonded team.
“I can balance my life more freely without having to worry about losing hours and hours of my life commuting,” says Jordan Fultz, one of Hawk’s SEM managers. “I can easily adjust my schedule to accommodate clients without sacrificing time with my family.”
Anyone who’s recently worked in an office can tell you it’s often rife with distractions. Particularly at tech companies and startups, expect barking dogs, ping-pong games, and other “perks” that can sometimes keep tasks from being accomplished.
Telework may also come with its own interruptions (dogs bark at home too, of course). But few would argue that there are just as many attention-span killers as in-office life provides. Rather, employees are more able to craft the unique type of work environment they can thrive in, whether at home or on a coffeeshop patio.
Increased flexibility and autonomy
We love to talk about working smarter instead of harder. Remote work allows you to be more flexible with how you spend your time and work on your projects. Maybe you do your best work at 6 a.m. or 6 p.m. While your job may have specific hours, there’s often room to carve out a schedule that works for you.
“Remote work gives workers more flexibility in their daily schedules,” explains Matt Smith, an SEO and SEM manager here at Hawk. “This helps them get more done in a given day.”
Not only that, but it’s pretty hard to micromanage someone virtually. Telework offers a level of autonomy. Employees can be given the time and space needed to complete tasks and brainstorm new ideas.
A more equal playing field
Some office environments tend to favor a certain type of employee. Maybe it’s the one who always raises their hand in meetings (but generally has trouble letting others talk), knows the CEO from college, or is always staying late and burning the proverbial midnight oil.
The reality is, the best team is a diverse team. That means some people who are more introverted, need to think for a bit before they offer up their thoughts, and who can’t always work late into the evening because of family or other obligations.
Remote work is set up in such a way that all of these employee types can grow and succeed.
Less emphasis on appearance and “presenteeism” (which Investopedia defines as the lost productivity that occurs when employees are not fully functioning in the workplace) means more emphasis on what matters: how well they perform their job and the attitude they bring with them each day when they log on.
When the pandemic first shut down businesses across the globe, I felt extra fortunate that, as a fully-teleworking employee, I was already set up and living the work-from-home life.
Now, as workplaces attempt to return to various degrees of hybrid and in-office plans, knowing my situation won’t be changing helps me focus more on my tasks at hand, instead of constantly trying to manage my risk level as it relates to work.
Nina Breece, one of our SEM managers, agrees. “Amidst the pandemic, many people have had the constant stress of [wondering] when or if they will return to the office again,” she says. “As a fully remote company, we haven’t had to worry about being sent back to an office before we are comfortable.”
Some higher ups who haven’t experienced managing a remote team may be concerned about productivity. But the data is clear. An Owl Labs survey found that 79% of respondents said teleworking had “increased their productivity and focus.”
Forbes reports on a two-year study from the University of Stanford’s Professor Nicholas Bloom, which found that “employees working from home actually accomplished more of a ‘true’ full shift each day, as they didn’t use up time getting ready, commuting, leaving the office multiple times, or being late.”
Goals are goals, and KPIs are KPIs. Whether in-office or remote, there are plenty of ways to monitor progress, analyze statistics, and track accomplishments accordingly. As long as proper communication is established, you should feel just as in the loop on how a teleworking employee is performing in their job.
The stress and unpredictability of the pandemic has thrown people for a loop, to say the least. That’s why it’s especially important to keep mental health in mind. Whether in office or remote, the most effective team leaders and managers make sure employees have the space and time to care for themselves, rather than racing towards burnout.
Telework offers a ton of perks, not the least of which is the mental health boost that many teleworking employees experience.
Companies can do their part to foster this health benefit by encouraging employees to work reasonable hours, making job expectations clear, and trusting that their team has what it takes to get the job done.