Remote working has become the new norm with the advent of Covid, and while employees value flexibility, there is growing concern that people’s mental health and well-being can take a hit. Research shows that being “always on” and accessible by technology while working remotely leads to the blurring of work and non-work boundaries, particularly if you work from home.
Additionally, in a virtual environment, there can be a tendency to focus too much on tasks and too little on relationships. This kind of transactional work practice gets the job done, but fails to recognise how important the people are who are completing the tasks. With more emphasis on deadlines and routine information, virtual workers can feel treated as a cog in a machine, rather than an essential part of the team.
Communication becomes more important in the virtual space and navigating sensitive territory in a virtual team is an essential skill. Emails can be interpreted as being rude or too direct, Chat’s misconstrued without context and no visible body language, and if we’re not careful, issues can fester.
Here are some tips and tools to help you maintain healthy work relationships and keep it light:
Instead of hoping your work associates can read between the lines in your communications with them (while you teeter on the edge of losing your sh*t), how about you update your chat emoji to give everyone the heads up.
Ask the question “Are you OK” when you feel like one of your pals is in frazzle town.
Be compassionate with yourself. We’re living in strange times, so it’s more important now than ever to be compassionate with yourself. You don’t have to be productive 100% of the time. Some days, just doing the absolute bare minimum is all that can be managed, and that’s perfectly okay. Give yourself permission to feel the stress, but don’t let it consume you. Tell yourself that it will pass and you’re strong enough to get through it. The more stressed you’re feeling, the more important it is to remind yourself of that. Here’s the chat emoji that goes with that:
A picture paints 1,000 words – If you feel like throwing yourself in front of the postie’s motorbike, show us how it is. Gifs are here for our entertainment.
Emotionally proofread your messages – no explanation required.
Set up an “after work ritual” to help you “log out”. Something as simple as saying the phrase, “Schedule shutdown, complete.” After uttering the magic phrase, if a work-related worry pops to mind, answer it with “I said the termination phrase.”
So now you have the skills, go use them!