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5 Ways to Combat the remote work isolation and loneliness

Most of the employees have switched to “Work from Home” to reduce the spread of COVID-19 across the country. Remote working practices are growing steadily in popularity and enabled a host of digital tools, from web conferencing, virtual business planning, e-mails, mobile collaboration applications, etc. 

“Work from Home” is not common for many organizations and they are adjusting to a set of new policies to combat the coronavirus outbreak. No matter, you are an IT employee, office worker, customer service professional, there is considerable room to improve your digital experience while working remotely.

How remote working is affecting the emotional health of employees?

As governments continue to roll out strict measures to address COVID-19, the new ways of working come along with strong impacts on the emotional health of employees, making. the existing management strategies like socializing activities, co-working, and other engagement initiatives redundant now. Remote working needs to be managed in a completely different manner but before implementing the strategies, they have to know the difference between isolation and loneliness.

Loneliness is an emotional response to the lack of employee connection that makes people feel lonely while working. When electronic communication is increased, the face-to-face interaction between employees is decreased drastically. On the other hand, isolation is related to lack of access. When the isolated people in the company cannot get access to the information or content they need, they feel cut-off from the organizational environment.

Isolation is more of a structural concern and not an emotional one. However, the feelings of isolation and loneliness are interrelated. Everyone has different circumstances with remote working experiences. Some may be working with family members around, working partners, or some alone. The concerns of every employee need to be taken seriously to reduce the impact on employee morale, engagement, and impacts on their emotional health. 

Well, loneliness and isolation can be handled by addressing the root concerns and having ongoing conversations, given the broader circumstances brought by the coronavirus pandemic.

Here are the 5 ways to combat the remote work isolation and loneliness.

With the shift to mass remote working in response to the lockdown, this checklist ensures your employees can combat the remote work isolation and loneliness.

1. Connect them to technology and business 

The feelings of isolation can be minimized by using technology to interconnect employees with the core business tasks. It is important to understand the bigger picture of the organization to ensure regular top-to down communication takes place effectively. If you are conducting some regular activities like leadership updates, outlining business continuity plans, sharing knowledge base, celebrating business achievements or even showing just some resilience, it will increase a sense of connection in employees.   

In addition, technology has a vital role to play at this time to address loneliness of employees when leveraged effectively. The right technology can provide the much-needed collaboration that is lacking at this time. Instant communication channels like conferences with social collaboration tools are one of the most trending solutions to promote conversation and a lot more. Start mirroring your communication that occurs in your physical workplace by exploring the right opportunity and lower the risk of loneliness and isolation among employees

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2. Spotlight different teams and departments

Remote working usually results in a different type of communication and location silos because the project teams and departments are operating individually. Practicing remote work by actively promoting their business activities like a daily team roundup on the intranet, department updates via engaging channels, hosting live sessions, etc. The key to remote working is clear communication with your team as it helps you understand what is expected of you when you are not in the office. Having clear expectations helps you roll-out your with much less effort. These activities revolve around the work of different teams, departments, and projects of the organization and reap great benefits.

While COVID-19 is pushing everyone into the extreme isolation environment, spotlighting the employees in the virtual workspace can help to create an engaging online environment. It provides a sense of connection and awareness to the employees, makes them feel valued in the organization, and adds a little bit of lightness to the monotonous environment.

3. Make projects and tasks access open

Small things matter when it comes to the feelings of employees. Like not having visibility of tasks, projects and progress can trigger isolation and soon, these employees start feeling out of the loop. The digital tools like Microsoft Teams can be used to map the tasks and projects of every individual within the organization. It also provides insights and real-time status updates by establishing different areas of discussion.

You can keep track of all projects and see a bigger picture of your progress. The challenge of real-time project tracking can be resolved smoothly. In fact, the project stand-ups are also helpful in understanding what people are working on and shed light on the potential challenges where the concerned team can put forward their ideas.

4. Central recognition and appreciation 

Recognition and appreciation are directly related to the increased morale and engagement of employees. It also has a major impact on the outcomes as well. While working from home, most of the effort made by employees may go unnoticed and unseen by others. Creating a company-wide recognition and appreciation can bring these hidden moments to the light and engage the employees even in the digital workplace. 

The importance of recognizing your employees cannot be understated. A simple message of “Thanks” or “Good work” can go a long way and make your staff feel valued. You can add the content of recognition and appreciation to your digital workplace for a quick shout-out and enhanced productivity.

5. Schedule coffee or lunch breaks together 

While we have put forward the concept of social space for the employees, it is important to schedule time for short breaks, bring ideas together, and connect people who are feeling disconnected or lonely. Team breaks, popping a conference or video call will give them a break from routine tasks and talk something other than work too. You can also consider taking it a step further by setting up virtual quizzes to have a non-work conversation. However, it is difficult for people to opt-in these activities who feel isolated and lonely. 

Identify a starting point of discussion, get someone to conduct learning sessions, get informal updates about the industry, and alike. It encourages debate, enhances the thinking process, and enables people to contribute to the organization. 

Are you ready to take up this World’s largest Work-from-Home Experiment? 

Don’t let your employees face the negative side of “Work from Home” because isolation and loneliness develop over time. This coronavirus may end up making us far more socially isolated than most of us have ever been at work and in personal life too. Consider this time as a key opportunity to create an excellent digital remote work environment that is very engaging and participatory. 

The right efforts and tools can help us identify, prevent, and support the employees in the most effective manner. Get a Free Demo to know more about the innovative tools and shift your culture digitally to start building a better organization. 

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