Why Remote Work is the Answer to the Stress Epidemic

Stress_-_Headache
Stress and it's consequences are taking a toll on businesses world-wide. Here's how remote work can help prevent them.

April was stress awareness month, and as a result, a lot of content was shared on social media about workplace stress and its causes. One of the most notable examples was the LinkedIn Learning Stress at Work Report. To compile the report, the business social network surveyed 2,843 professionals to build up a picture of stress in the workplace.

The survey showed that an incredible 49% of workers reported feeling stressed in their jobs. That’s bad news, and not just for the worker and their family who have to deal with that stress on a day-to-day basis. Because, while you might think that some element of stress is normal or even necessary for performance, the evidence that stress damages the bottom line is irrefutable.

According to the American Institute of Stress, employees who are under pressure at work cost the US economy a massive £300 billion per annum. That’s not just caused by absenteeism, although the physical manifestations of stress are some of the biggest causes of time off work; headache, upset stomach and back pain all play a part. Other symptoms of stress include forgetfulness, disorganization, difficulty in staying focused and insomnia. So it’s no surprise that stressed staff is less productive.

But how is remote work the answer to this problem? Well, the explanation for that lies in the reasons that participants gave for their stress.

The Reasons for Workplace Stress

As part of the survey, LinkedIn Learning asked participants to tell them which elements of working life were stressful. They then used this data to come up with the 5 biggest drivers of stress for employees. Let’s take a look at those:

1. Work-life Balance/Workload

A massive 70% of those surveyed listed this as a cause of stress at work. While LinkedIn Learning lumped these two things together, we think they’re two separate issues.

Work-life balance is an issue for many people. They want to do their best at work, and enjoy job satisfaction and the associated financial rewards, but not at the expense of time with loved ones. It’s hard for parents to miss out on events at their children’s school (hard for the kids, too), or for a busy worker to lose the chance to visit a sick or elderly relative in hospital. We know that taking time out to do the things we love is good for us. But when you’re faced with late finishes on a Friday and a long commute come Monday morning, ‘spare’ time can feel all too short.

Flexible working is the answer to that problem. Letting people work from home – either full- or part-time – gives them the ability to put in the hours when they are most productive and to take time off for other important things in life. Yes, your remote work policy needs to be clear on the limits of this flexibility, but allowing it makes for happier, healthier staff.

As to workload; well, if you have unrealistic expectations of what your staff is capable of, it doesn’t really matter where they work. But we do know that remote staff is more productive. They don’t have all the health problems caused by a daily commute. We also know that remote workers are more likely to put in extra hours, working through that commuting time or picking up their laptop on a weekend so they can stay ahead on their own terms.

2. Confidence in Job Future (64%)

Remote working is called the future of work for a reason; it’s the way things are moving. As we come to terms with a culture of globalization and look for ways to respond to the environmental crisis, having people who work around the world just makes good business sense.

When hiring remotely, your company saves money and can hire the best people for the job no matter where they are. This sets the business up for success. You’re also giving your staff valuable remote work experience, which would help them find their next role. Although you shouldn’t have to worry: they’re less likely to leave your company – because you support flexible working!

3. Sense of Purpose/Direction (64%)

If your company as a whole has lost direction, then hiring remote won’t help you. You’re probably better off hiring some management consultants to help you get back on track. But we think the most likely cause of this type of work stress is that the employees don’t feel like they have a purpose.

Remote workers tend to be self-starters. They’re not the sort of people who need spoon feeding, it’s part of the self-reliance that makes for a great remote employee. And remote teams need clear roles and responsibilities, and frequent communication. When you have all these things, there shouldn’t be an opportunity for a remote team member to feel that they don’t know where they’re going next.

4. Colleagues/Work Politics (63%)

We still hear people talking about how missing out on water cooler chats is a problem with remote working (despite a plethora of tools to help with that.) This is the flip side of that argument, this is stress being caused by the other people that you have to spend time with because of work.

And of course, working remotely minimizes that contact. Yes, remote teams stay in touch but difficult people are so much easier to deal with when you know they are on a different continent. When communication is written rather than verbal and face-to-face, it eases a lot of the interpersonal issues. At least, as long as Hanlon’s Razor is observed.

5. Access to Tools to Do Your Job (62%)

Unless you really want to pay someone to just sit at home in their PJs and watch TV, you’re going to make sure that your remote team has everything they need to get on with their job. And because staff want to work from home, developers are spending their time creating some amazing tools that make it not just possible, but easy.

We’ve written a whole series of articles on Remote Team Tools covering chat, collaboration, file sharing, task management, version control, video conferencing, and more. There’s really no reason why your remote team worker shouldn’t have everything they need to get on with being more productive and happier.

Let Us Take the Stress Out

We know that changing the way you work can be stressful. If you’re used to recruiting and working with people face-to-face then the idea of them being halfway around the world can seem daunting. That’s why our blog archive is filled with articles to help you navigate your way through managing your remote team.

And as to finding the right people to join your company? Well, we’re pretty good at that. When we send you a candidate you can be sure they’ve been pre-screened not just for technical skill but also for the ability work remotely, successfully. Don’t stress about it. Get in touch today.

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Sarah Dixon

Sarah Dixon

Sarah Dixon is a children’s author, prolific writer of short stories and is studying for an MA inCreative Writing. She’s also does all sorts of things with words for businesses, like creating engaging and original blog content, copy, bids and more.

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