Fighting Loneliness Among Remote Workers: 7 Tips For Companies
The rise of global hiring has helped more professionals in different industries become digital nomads, people who take advantage of new technologies to offer their services while traveling the world. Although this lifestyle may seem dreamy, one of the side effects of remote work is the isolation of employees. This condition can affect their health and performance, so here are seven tips for fighting loneliness among remote workers.
Being a digital nomad means having the facilities to work remotely and from different cities or places, whether in cafes, shared workspaces, public libraries, and anywhere you can connect your mobile devices to the internet to offer a service to an employer.
This lifestyle encourages online jobs, professional freedom, flexible schedules, and the adoption of asynchronous working through cloud-based communication and collaboration platforms, whether full-time collaborating for a company, as an international independent contractor, freelancer, or even running your own business.
For many people, digital nomadism was a way to adapt and take advantage of the conditions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic: working out of the office, on your own schedule, and without a specific location. For others, the lack of contact with their colleagues triggered feelings of loneliness and a sense of not belonging in the workplace.
Loneliness is the feeling of sadness and unhappiness at being socially isolated, either voluntarily or involuntarily. However, being alone and feeling lonely are not the same thing: a person can be surrounded by others, like a digital nomad traveling from city to city, and feel misunderstood and alone.
Unfortunately, loneliness also exposes people to the risk of physical illness, shortening their life expectancy and causing depression, a feeling of constant sadness, and a loss of interest in different activities. Also, it can produce tiredness and anxiety that can affect their job performance and productivity or in extreme cases lead to resignation.
Fighting loneliness among remote workers, whether digital nomads or staff who operate from a fixed location —such as the comfort of their home- is not a simple task and requires commitment, resources, and dedicated programs from companies. Therefore, here are seven tips for companies to support their employees in their nomadic life and provide them with tools to improve wellness when working from home.
Fighting loneliness among remote workers: 7 tips for companies
1. Support them in their digital nomadic lifestyle
The best way to support digital nomads is to hire them. Whether directly as international independent contractors or through an employer of record (EOR) in their home country, acquiring the services of this type of workers and providing them with all the benefits of collaborating in your organization will facilitate their life in constant movement.
The policies you establish in your company for hiring digital nomads should consider that, in general, these types of professionals are programmers, graphic designers, writers and editors, consultants, marketing experts, analysts, accountants, photographers, community managers, and content creators, so you can reserve these vacancies for them and add them to your international talent pool.
2. Offer flexible schedules
Establishing flexible schedules in your company has many benefits, including fighting loneliness among remote workers. When working by objectives rather than a regular 9 to 5 schedule Monday through Friday, your distributed workforce can better balance their personal and professional lives and take advantage of their daytime to do different activities, such as attending a medical appointment, taking a walk, and interacting.
While working outside of an office can lead people to isolate themselves, providing them with flexible schedules makes it easier for them to continue their education, spend time with others and have a life beyond work. In addition, it is an excellent way to show them that you are interested in their performance but also care about their personal development and emotional well-being.
3. Provide facilities for hybrid work or coworking
Implement a hybrid work modality to fight loneliness among remote workers caused by the lack of interaction with their office colleagues. This way, your staff will attend a work center or office part-time in their city, where they can spend time with the rest of their colleagues and staff from other areas.
If you do not have offices near the location of your remote employees, or if they work entirely online, offer them memberships for coworking sites, shared spaces where these professionals can make use of well-equipped and comfortable offices in the company of other people who do not necessarily have to belong to the same company or sector.
4. Promote recreational activities
Another tip for fighting loneliness among remote workers is to promote a culture of activities away from home, either among team members who live in the same city or simply by providing them with information about events related to their tastes and interests that allow them to interact with other people.
Include memberships or special discounts for gyms or sports clubs as part of the benefits package you give to your remote teams, where they can improve their physical health and interact. Being physically active improves mental health, so your remote staff are likely to feel better, their self-esteem may increase, and they will concentrate better on their daily activities.
5. Offer psychological and emotional support
As an employer, in addition to providing medical services following the regulations of each territory where the members of your distributed workforce are based, ensure that remote employees have psychological and emotional support, either from professionals within the organization or through an external institution.
Taking care of the mental health of your staff will help them to make the most of their potential and take on challenges both in the organization and in their daily lives. It will also promote good relationships, both with the people around them or with their remote co-workers.
6. Organize regular meetings or team-building activities
When you have employees operating from different parts of the globe, often with varying zones of time, what you can do to fight loneliness among remote workers is to organize regular meetings, not only to assign tasks and review progress but also for your workers to get to know each other.
Team-building activities, from questions related to their likes and interests to queries that probe more into their backgrounds and life stories, help your staff feel a sense of belonging to the organization they serve and, consequently, dissipate feelings of loneliness.
7. Send them to in-person networking meetings
Finally, fighting loneliness among remote employees can also be achieved when you send them to face-to-face networking meetings or events in their hometowns or nearby locations, allowing them to become representatives of the corporation and connect with other professionals or companies on behalf of your business.
This networking strategy will not only help them get out of the routine of working at home every day without seeing other people, but it will help them exchange information, opinions, and ideas among professionals with common interests. Moreover, it will make it easier for them to expand their circle of contacts, increase their knowledge of the industry, keep up to date, and find international growth opportunities for your business, from suppliers to investors.