Working from home is now a fixture – how can people balance work and life, and what can responsible employers do to support employee wellbeing?
After a tumultuous and unsettling 18 months, one of the silver linings to a particularly dark cloud has been the confirmation that working from home can be productive and widely accepted. As we take steps back in the direction of a long-forgotten Shangri La called ‘normality’, it’s evident that home working will continue to play a part in the lives of many workers. A recent Flexjob survey of over 2,000 employees found that 65% of remote workers want to keep working from home, and 58% said they’d look for a new job if they were forced to return to the office.
However, the same survey revealed that many of these home workers also have misgivings. Chief among them, cited by nearly 35%, was the concern that working from home, and the lack of a clear, delineated cut-off time, could lead to overwork. BUPA has also flagged up this problem. ‘It can be harder to switch off when you don’t ‘leave the office’ and it can lead to working longer hours,’ BUPA cautions. Other potential worries included domestic and familial distractions, slow wifi(!), and general technical problems grinding people down.
A survey conducted by the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) revealed that 68% of those working from home felt less connected to their colleagues. Moreover, 46% said they were doing less exercise, 39% had developed musculoskeletal problems, and 37% reported disturbed sleep.
Other issues, less practical and more nebulous, perhaps, but no less real – are identified by SAMH, an organisation looking after Scotland’s Mental Health. ‘Loneliness, disconnect and isolation are common problems in remote work life,’ is the warning.
Tell me what you want (what you really want)
What is becoming increasingly clear, then, is that working from home will present workers, and therefore employers, with new challenges, and nowhere more so than in relation to employee wellbeing. Business magazine Forbes has said that ‘prioritizing mental health and wellness will be critical to appease new workforce priorities in the office of the future.’ Three-quarters of employees expect health and wellbeing perks in the post-pandemic world. And, with companies saving on office space, entertainment, promotional and travel expenses, they have the means to provide these perks.
Which is where buddyboost comes in to enable you to support employee wellbeing! Buddyboost is a platform that supports employee wellness through exercise and social connection. It uses a simple challenge format to improve both physical and mental health, notably building increased employee engagement. On starting a buddyboost challenge, employees download the bespoke branded app and commit to doing 26 minutes of activity every day for 26 days. People can form into groups of buddies to help and motivate one another, and everyone stays in touch via the app’s community feed – which is private to your company – posting messages and photos, boosting engagement and team spirit. See some of our inspirational buddyboosters here.
A bit of activity plus social connections equals more happiness
The physical and mental benefits of being active, combined with the sense of camaraderie from the social interactions, has been shown to have a significant boost to the mood of participants, which the app measures via a mood score that participants register after each activity. In fact, across over 9,000 buddyboost participants, the average post activity mood increase is over 25%.
With the RSPH launching a campaign calling for ‘employers to ensure that all employees have access to mental health support to help them cope with increased isolation and anxiety,’ companies like buddyboost will have a vital role to play in helping employers to look after their workforce. Only 34% of respondents to the RSPH survey said their employer had offered them support with their mental health.
Christina Marriott, the Chief Executive of RSPH, says, ‘The changes in the way that millions of people are working has the potential for employers to rethink how they are supporting their employees’ mental and physical health… The best employers will set up their workforces not only to cope, but to thrive as we move out of the pandemic.’
So, the case for buddyboost is clear – healthier and happier employees, 26 minutes a day!
To find out how you can support employee wellbeing drop us a message below.