5 ways to support long-term remote working post COVID-19

Companies like Twitter and Square recently announced their employees could work remotely forever. But, while remote working can provide many opportunities for the companies of today, long-term adoption is only beneficial if the transition is completed in the right way.

Here are the vital steps leaders should take to ensure successful, long-term remote working:

long-term remote workingDevelop a culture of trust

Culture is more important than ever in a virtual environment, not only because staff should feel connected to their teammates, but also so they know when to ‘clock-off’ after a day working from home.

Businesses should consider offering a flexible, remote workday schedule, outside the traditional 9-5. One benefit is this provides flexibility to meet personal needs and family responsibilities conveniently. Being granted an environment where staff can better balance work with personal demands ensures improved concentration and productivity on tasks during work hours.

If you’re looking to further align your remote working goals with employee needs and satisfaction, keeping regular dialogue and seeking feedback from employees can help a company better understand the sentiment of staff and which benefits they’d most appreciate during prolonged home working.

Encourage exercise related activities, at work, at home and in the community

It’s essential to ensure musculoskeletal health is protected while employees work from home. However, research shows more than half of employees receive no employer guidance on how to set up a workstation that supports healthy posture, despite employer’s having a legal obligation to look after the health of long-term desk workers.

Employers should issue and check Display Screen Equipment assessments are completed and if possible, provide access to face to face and remote physiotherapy services to help both prevent and treat musculoskeletal issues.

With more employees becoming engaged with fitness during lockdown, there is also an opportunity for businesses to capitalise on this momentum. Companies should help staff maintain enthusiasm for keeping active by making benefits available that facilitate this like access to both onsite and remote fitness services.

Continue to support virtual mental health offerings

Post lockdown, many companies reported online video counselling sessions became more popular among employees, showing many now feel comfortable accessing support for mental wellbeing via technology.

Whether you do or do not already have emotional wellbeing services, it is an important time for all businesses to see which options are available that could make a real difference to your workforce. While those returning to the office may have access to face-to-face offerings, there are also plenty of wellness options that can be offered to staff remotely.

These include cognitive behaviour therapy, which can be delivered safely and effectively by phone, video or email for flexibility and privacy. Other types of therapy, which are also safe, effective, and accessible remotely, include counselling (e.g., relationship, bereavement), interpersonal therapy, and access to psychiatric assessments.

Expand staff healthcare support

Many of today’s offices are filled to the brim with the latest technology, from standing desks to tech which enhances connectivity and workflow patterns around the office.  If these are available for those when in the office, businesses should extend the same courtesies to its remote workforce.

Consider offering or expanding employee allowances to subsidise work-related purchases. Whether you find a way to provide the same office set up to your remote employees or provide a fixed regular sum paid as a salary or as expenses, so they can purchase what they see fit, assisting them in setting up a home office is a key perk.

Some options for staff could include ergonomic chairs, extra monitors to help them process computer tasks more efficiently and access to high-speed, adequate broadband. Not only are these helpful to staff but improving workstation ergonomics can reduce symptoms associated with musculoskeletal disorders and shows you are a responsible business, who cares about the health of your employees.

By Kevin Thomson, corporate healthcare director at Nuffield Health