Employers: Are You Supporting Your Remote Employees Enough?

In Business, Employee Benefits, Mental Health by Claire Ginnelly

The working from home trend is set to continue but employers need to provide more support to remote employees…

The so-called “new normal” that we will all live under once the COVID-19 crisis has eased will mean adjustments in many areas of our lives. For example, social distancing measures will likely remain, as will the advice to regularly and thoroughly wash hands. In addition, the number of people working from home will also remain pretty high. 

After all, if someone can perform their role just as effectively at home as they would at their place of work, it makes sense to allow them to work remotely for at least the foreseeable future. It seems this kind of home-first approach will be adopted by many organisations.

Regular home working rises to 37%

Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) research shows the number of employees working from home on a regular basis will increase to 37%, compared to 18% before the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, respondents expect almost a quarter (22%) of employees to work from home permanently, compared to just 9% before the pandemic.

However, if the working from home trend is to continue, employers will need to up their games when it comes to supporting their remote employees. That’s because new research suggests that a significant number of employees do not feel supported by their employer while working from home.

According to the research by Unipos — a platform that enables employees to recognise each other’s achievements and give praise where it’s due — nearly a third (31%) of employees feel that their employer does not support them when they work from home.

However, the research, published in July 2020, also found that 83% of employees admit that their organisation has attempted to support them while working remotely. Perhaps this feeling of lacking support is one of the drivers behind some remote workers’ productivity falling. Indeed, the research revealed that one in four (25%) worker’s productivity has fallen while working from home. Moreover, creativity has also been suffering, with 45% of respondents saying they miss being able to effectively share their ideas and feedback with co-workers. Almost half (47%) cite lack of communication as an issue.

Working from home affords many benefits

Nevertheless, working from home has also afforded benefits for many workers. Over three-quarters (79%) say the lack of commute is a positive, while two-thirds (66%) enjoy having greater flexibility. Over half (53%) appreciate having more family time while working remotely.

For those managing employees, regular calls and video meetings (69%), as well as increased positive feedback (62%), were the key ways to keep teams motivated and productive while out of the office.

Speaking about the findings of the research, Takashi Sato, managing director of Unipos, said: “The 2020 experiment with mass remote working has made many companies and employees realise that it is possible to operate without a central office, and that the flexibility it brings can be a huge positive. However, the dangers of isolation are clear. Positive collaboration, recognition and increased communication are crucial if businesses are to protect staff well-being and company productivity.”

In Summary

The COVID-19 pandemic is going to have a lasting impact and significantly change the way employers and employees work. What employers need to do now is ensure they are supporting their remote employees as best as possible to avoid dips in productivity, as well as mental health decline.

Claire Ginnelly is the Managing Director of Premier Choice Health and has been in the private medical insurance industry since 1991. All her experience has been gained working for large insurance companies managing the distribution of health insurance products through intermediaries. She has held senior positions within Standard Life Healthcare, as Head of Intermediary Sales, and Groupama Healthcare, as Head of Distribution.