The shift to remote work was a necessity during the pandemic, and while it was a fringe culture before 2020 it’s become a choice for so many in the post-pandemic world. At the moment, I work remote in all my professional roles.
For some, remote work is a blessing, for others, challenging. CEOs and managers are wrestling with the enigma of remote happiness and how to foster it in a 500+ person company or even in a smaller startup.
In this brave new world, some team members feel isolated, leading them to make seemingly irrational decisions like leaving their job or even having no job at all. This decision may seem illogical, especially when it leads to giving up substantial compensation, leaving managers and CEOs feeling puzzled and even offended.
Yet, the reasons behind this choice are actually logical.
The Connection Dilemma
Remote work may lead to a feeling of disconnection, resulting in sadness or depression. Many mistakenly believe that their disconnection comes from working in a “big company.” They hope that a smaller company would help them regain a sense of connection. However, the disconnection often stems from the manner of remote working, not the company’s size.
Breaking the Barrier
Managers often feel uncomfortable asking about an employee’s personal life or daily routines. This hesitation is a mistake. A manager’s role is akin to a coach, helping their team members to address and resolve issues, whether work-related or personal.
Should you notice signs of unhappiness or distress in a team member, ask about their home environment and daily routine. It may uncover a lack of one or more essentials:
- Time outdoors
- Social interaction
- Physical exercise
- Uninterrupted workspace
Humans require these aspects to maintain mental balance. While they could be achieved to some extent by going to the office pre-COVID, in this post-pandemic world, they can be intentionally created and even enhanced in a remote setting.
The Elements of Balance
1. Connection to Nature: Encourage daily walks, breaks outside, and a connection with the natural world to provide a sense of grounding and transition between work and personal life.
2. Connection to Tribe: Foster a community with regular in-person or virtual gatherings, creating an environment where laughter and human connection thrive.
3. Blood Flow: Simple exercises, stretching, or even short runs can invigorate the mind and body, providing peace and calm that lasts beyond the workday.
4. Uninterrupted Workspace: Support team members in creating a quiet workspace, whether at home or a co-working space, allowing for focus and productivity.
By being proactive, managers and CEOs can recreate the elements of a physical office in a remote work setting. Here’s how:
1. Embrace Nature and Family Connections: Walks, outdoor breaks, and family interactions can help foster a connection to nature and loved ones.
2. Social Gatherings: Simple, low-effort social events can create bonds, allowing team members to connect and enjoy shared experiences.
3. Flexible Exercise Routine: Short, effective exercise routines can be incorporated into daily schedules, promoting physical well-being.
4. Support for Uninterrupted Workspaces: Whether through rent stipends for coworking spaces or a more generous remote residence, providing support for a designated workspace can enhance productivity.
5. Promote Work-Life Balance: Encourage time away from screens, weekend rejuvenation, and regular vacations.
Remote happiness isn’t an abstract concept but a tangible goal and there are too many people not taking full advantage of remote work. The strategies I mention above aren’t just solutions for a temporary problem but a new way of working, living, and finding satisfaction.
It’s not about going back to the old normal but embracing a new, more thoughtful normal that prioritizes well-being and connection. By recognizing and addressing the core human needs of our team members, we can build a more resilient, content, and thriving remote workforce.
©️ 2023 Vikrant Duggal