5 Employee Wellness Program Ideas for Remote Workers

Remote work comes with challenges for employee wellness. First, there are the new challenges of remote working, such as loneliness or unforeseen barriers to working. Second, there are the upsides of in-office work, which need to be offset. Learn how to tackle these problems with 5 proven employee wellness program ideas!


Employee wellness trends in 2020

In 2020, more people than ever are working from home. To many people, this lifestyle change seems like the perfect solution to striking a good work/life balance. And to think, it's been sitting under our noses all these years. Today, over 60% of Americans work from home at least some of the time and they want to keep working remotely in the future

Remote work after covid-19

New employee wellness challenges

However, remote working creates a whole host of new challenges. Protecting your employees' mental and physical health is top of the pile. Some businesses will frame this in the language of remote work productivity, but it's bigger than that. These are your friends and colleagues, after all.

If you get this wrong, your staff will quickly tire of remote working. To avoid this, I want to share with you five proven employee wellness ideas for remote workers. I've been a senior manager in a 100% remote company for several years now, so I guess you could say I'm kind of an early adopter of working from home.

5 proven employee wellness ideas for remote workers

Let's jump in and see how you can make your remote workers' lives healthier and happier:

Employee wellness idea #1: Create virtual social spaces

Almost 20% of remote workers struggle with isolation. Employees who have suddenly shifted to working from home in the last few months are some of the most vulnerable to this. After all, our colleagues are often the people we spend the most time with. It can be a massive shock to have this network taken away.

Remote work challenges

At this point, it’s worth realizing that working in an office does have certain benefits. Chatting around the watercooler is a cliche for a reason. We’re social animals. As such, it’s important to recreate this experience for virtual workers.

Realistically, there are two ways to go about this:

In either case, the important thing is to maintain social contact between your employees. It doesn’t really matter what they talk about, just as long as nobody feels isolated or alone.

Employee wellness idea #2: Ensure remote employees have the tools they need

New remote workers often find that they suddenly don’t have everything they need to do their job correctly. There are two different things at play here.  Firstly, there’s this idea that remote working means taking your laptop and working from anywhere. There’s something romantic about sitting on a beach sipping a cocktail and looking over a few spreadsheets.

Of course, this isn’t how remote work actually pans out. For one thing, if you sit on a beach for eight hours a day, five days a week, you’d quickly develop severe back problems. Just like in a physical office, if you want to maintain employee wellness, you need to provide the right equipment for them to work safely and comfortably.

Secondly, new remote workers often find new and unexpected barriers to doing their jobs properly. This can have a significant impact on employee well-being. Quite simply, it just creates unnecessary stress and even conflict. For instance, if you’re out of the office, it’s a lot more difficult to walk over to a colleague with a quick question. Similarly, it’s difficult for remote sales teams to get sign-off on a new project when they can’t invite clients into the office.

These problems can only really be solved with technology. For example, collaboration tools and instant messaging platforms can easily solve internal communication pain points.

Remote work tools

You can also use more specific tools to overcome other problems your team encounters while working remotely. For example, proposal management software can get around the problem of remote project initiation, while modern VOIP tools make delivering presentations remotely a breeze.

Employee wellness idea #3: Encourage remote employees to switch off

Getting remote workers to switch off is a challenge that many people fail to anticipate. It also shows off another unexpected benefit of brick and mortar offices. When you work in an office 9-5, it’s much easier to leave work in the office.

When you work in your bedroom or at your kitchen table, creating this mental distance is a lot harder. The crux of this is that remote workers are far more inclined to stay online and do an extra hour or two of work in the evening.

Remote work challenges

Even before the rise of widespread remote working, overwork was beginning to create mental health problems for many workers. Many countries are even beginning to recognize a right to disconnect. Of course, you don’t need to wait for your country to legislate and ban you from sending work emails outside of office hours. Instead, you should proactively create a culture of work during work hours in your organization.

Here are some concrete steps you can take to achieve this:

This is all about creating the right culture in your remote teams. By trying to create a supportive company culture, you can easily improve employee wellness without spending any additional cash.

Employee wellness idea #4: Offer mental health support

Working from home can reduce many common stress factors. For instance, you no longer have to sit in traffic every day or worry about arriving late to the office. However, remote working also comes with certain challenges for mental health.

Interestingly, remote workers are more likely to have trouble getting a good night’s sleep. In fact, over 40% of remote workers struggle with this. However, the exact reasons for this are unclear. It's also worth noting that it's one thing for managers and HR professionals to be concerned about their employees' mental health. However, this does not make you a therapist. As such, it's not your job to try and 'fix' problems here.

Instead, an employer's role is to offer mental health support, including making it easier for employees to seek help from qualified professionals if they need it. To achieve this, you can use the following framework:

Remote employees survey

Often, half the battle is getting your employees to take their mental health seriously. As a culture, we often celebrate unhealthy and stressful working habits. This problem can be exacerbated in the remote era.

Employee wellness idea #5: Replace in-office perks with subscriptions

Over the past number of decades, increased awareness of employee wellness has transformed the modern office. It’s another cliche but think about all those silicon valley campuses with their ping-pong tables and beer fridges.

This has been washed away by widespread remote working. Forget about tech campuses, thousands of people are now working in tiny furnished apartments. Obviously, at the beginning of the COVID pandemic, nobody’s top priority was how to get the free fruit they’re used to in the office, or their Monday morning yoga meeting.

But these things were provided for a reason - employee wellness. There’s no reason that this isn’t every bit as necessary in the world of remote working. The answer to this is offering the same perks to remote workers. There are a few different ways to go about this:

The critical thing to realize is that even though your employees can work in their pajamas, they still deserve the same perks and benefits as they did before.

Conclusion: How to keep your remote employees happy and healthy?

Remote work brings a number of benefits and opportunities. When done right, working from home can offer a much better work/life balance than commuting to a traditional office. It’s no wonder that 99% of workers like the option of remote work.

Remote work benefits

However, it also comes with challenges for employee wellness. These can essentially be placed into two categories. First, there are the new challenges of remote working, such as loneliness or unforeseen barriers to working. Second, there are the upsides of in-office work, which need to be offset.

Being aware of these issues is half the battle. The rest is a matter of engaging your remote employees and figuring out what works best for them.

About the author

Petra Odak is a Chief Marketing Officer at Better Proposals, a simple yet incredibly powerful proposal software tool that helps you send high-converting, web-based business proposals in minutes. She's a solution-oriented marketing enthusiast with more than 5 years of experience in various fields of marketing and project management.

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