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How Stress Impacts Telecommuter Productivity
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The COVID-19 pandemic has encouraged a great number of employers to allow their employees to telecommute, many of them for the first time. And while it may seem as though working from home would be more relaxing than working in an office environment, telecommuters are not immune from stress. In fact, you may be surprised to learn exactly how stress can be affecting your remote workers and, just as important, how that stress is impacting their productivity.

Recent studies indicate that for some employees, working from home is actually more stressful than working in an office. There are two primary reasons why this is true: lack of structure in their daily routines and isolation. When people have more flexibility with their own schedules, they often have a tendency to procrastinate and become easily distracted. This is especially true for people working from home, where everything from the dirty laundry to the family dog could suddenly seem much more interesting than sitting down in front of a computer and getting your work done. That procrastination, in turn, leads to anxiety. And anxiety leads to poor sleep patterns, which leads to difficulty concentrating. You can see how this could quickly become a vicious cycle. Telecommuters also have to make the adjustment to not seeing their coworkers every day – and, in some cases, to not seeing other people at all throughout the workday. Feeling lonely can lead to anxiety and depression. In fact, isolation is a leading cause of depression and other mental health issues.

Now for the good news: there are steps you can take as a manager to help your telecommuters avoid these pitfalls when working from home. Here are some helpful tips to pass along to your remote workers:

  • Suggest to your employees that they create a daily schedule. A person who works at home should follow a morning routine similar to the one he or she practiced when working in an office, including getting up at the same time each day, having breakfast, getting dressed for work, etc. Then, recommend that your remote workers set up a daily work schedule as well, including what time they’ll start work, what times they take breaks and lunch hours, and what time they’ll finish work for the day. Following a schedule each day helps the employee to stay on track, and eliminates the tendency to procrastinate – as well as the stress that accompanies it.
  • Recommend that your telecommuters set up a separate work space inside their homes. They don’t need to have actual at-home offices that are physically separated from the rest of the house. But even designating a desk in one corner of a living room that is used strictly for work can help to create separation between work life and family life. And that can make it easier for the employee to avoid becoming distracted throughout the day.
  • Stay in touch with your remote workers. Help them to overcome feelings of isolation by checking in with them on a daily basis. Schedule team meetings using video conferencing. And once a week or so, use that same video conferencing technology to hold virtual group lunches and/or virtual happy hours, so employees can interact with one another socially. This will not only help your telecommuters to overcome their feelings of loneliness – it will also create better working relationships between your staff members.
  • Use a productivity measurement tool like MySammy to measure your telecommuters’ productivity levels throughout the course of each workday. MySammy is much different than other software that is intended to “spy” on workers or block them from websites that are considered to be non-work-related. MySammy is actually designed to be used with the full knowledge of the employee. It can even help the telecommuters to monitor their own productivity levels, and challenge themselves to improve those levels over time.

Stress can be just as much of an issue for remote workers as it is for employees who work in an office environment. But with a little help from you – and from MySammy – your telecommuting staff can be just as motivated, productive and connected while working from home as they are working onsite in your office. Sign up for your free trial of MySammy today!

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