Remote Wellbeing

5 Ways to Navigate Wellbeing in a Remote World

April 13, 2021
6 min read

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During the second week of March, Hacking HR, a global learning community of HR and business leaders, held their 2021 Global Online Conference “HR Innovation and Future of Work”. With 500 exceptional speakers and 123 sessions, 24,000 participants tuned into the free conference to learn about the latest trends in HR and how to navigate our new remote world.

We tuned into the panel session, Wellbeing in a Remote World, moderated by Blythe Kazmierczak, the Principal at BlytheTalent, to hear from panelists:

They discussed the importance of wellbeing and what employers can do to encourage wellbeing in a remote workplace. Let’s dive into five of the key learnings from the session and their recommendations for how employers and employees can tackle wellbeing in a remote world.

Learning #1: Creating an effective business case for wellbeing starts with the employer.

Kate Lister, President at Global Workplace Analytics shared that 70% of the workforce has a least one chronic condition, which adds up to approximately $12 million in absenteeism and presenteeism (coming to work but not being fully effective).

“For a 1000-person company, that’s $12,000 per person per year. You can put together a pretty effective wellness program for that much money,” said Lister.

One thing the pandemic has brought to our attention is that “we are whole people, and we bring our whole selves to work”, Lister said. “If we’re having financial problems, we’re having health problems and family problems, that comes to work with us.”

These problems can hurt our performance and productivity, but employers can help solve these issues by investing in their employees through wellness programs and promoting a flexible work environment.

Learning #2: It’s the employer’s responsibility to implement wellbeing strategies.

No one anticipated that the pandemic would last this long and with the transition to remote almost overnight, most companies rushed to sort out their equipment needs for employees as it was essential to productivity.

Now that we are over a year into remote work, employers need to implement long-term strategies. Instead of spending money on an interim solution such as buying and installing plastic shields, “spend the time empowering people with the training that they need, with the tools that they need, with the emotional support that they need to be successful,” said Lister.

Whether you’re preparing to implement a hybrid, fully remote or in office workplace, investing in your employees will benefit everyone regardless of the direction you take in the future.

In addition to the training and tools required, what equipment is necessary for an employee’s home office? Do employees have a budget? Is their office set up ergonomically? What’s the process for getting something approved and expensed? These affect an employee’s work which impacts wellbeing. “The employer’s responsibility is to be clear and have clear expectations”, advised Giesbrecht.

As vaccines roll out, employers need to also start thinking about what’s ahead and communicate with their employees. Although a lot of people believe the worst is behind us, “in many ways the hardest part is ahead as we navigate the expectations in the next 12 months,” Giesbrecht said.

Rather than leaving employees in the dark about the post-pandemic plan, which can cause stress and impact wellbeing, Lister’s advice for employers is to be transparent. By telling employees you haven’t made a decision yet or you’re not going to bring anyone back to the office until it’s safe, it provides employees with some clarity and alleviates concerns and speculation.

Learning #3: There are additional competencies required to be effective remote leaders.

“Everything leaders need to do when they’re face-to-face is still required but there’s a set of skills and traits that are additionally required when you’re leading apart,” said Teamit’s Director of the Remote Performance Academy, Candace Giesbrecht.

Employers can support their leaders in doing this well by investing in training to help equip them with the skills needed to successfully lead high-performing remote teams.

The shift to remote work has allowed us to get a glimpse into the lives of our leaders and colleagues, bringing out the human in us. The example Lister gave was when we see our CEO with his or her children or golden retriever in the background, “It reduces the hierarchy and puts us on kind of a level playing field with them,” Lister said.

Empathy, trust, fairness, and transparency are the biggest competencies that make leaders effective in a remote environment.

Learning #4: Take charge of your own wellbeing and set boundaries.

“We always remind our employees to take charge of themselves,” said Chee Gay Lim, Executive Vice President at TDCX.

It can be difficult to separate your work from your personal life when you’re working remotely. When we’re in the office, we’re more active and get up to stretch and engage in ‘water cooler talk’. In a remote world, Lim stressed, it’s important to remember to eat well, exercise and get a good night’s sleep, as these all impact our performance and productivity.

The key is knowing when and how to start your day and when to wind down. Consider the things that are and aren’t working for you. By building a routine and sticking to it, you can create balance and a clear separation between your work and personal life.

Learning #5: Promoting wellbeing in a remote environment starts with leadership setting the example.

It’s all about setting the example and this starts with leadership. “It’s not reasonable to expect people to be as productive as they were before the pandemic,” said Lister.

For an organization to recognize that they might not do as well as previous years and encourage their employees to value their wellbeing, is necessary for avoiding employee burnout.

One thing that Lim’s organization has implemented to promote wellbeing is an employee assistance program that offers counselling services and support. “As an employer we need our employees to be productive, but we also need to be aware of the challenges they are facing,” said Lim.

Lister noted that as employers, it’s also important to continually remind people that they are valued and are contributing to the greater good.

Missed the conference? Watch for free online.

Watch the full Wellbeing in a Remote World panel discussion and more sessions from Hacking HR’s Conference for free. Here’s how to access the content.

  1. Go to the Hacking HR LAB.
  2. Create your FREE account.
  3. Click on CONFERENCE LIBRARY and access these videos from the 2021 Conference plus the 80+ corresponding to the 2020 conference.

Next year’s Hacking HR Global Online Conference “The Path Forward” is taking place March 7 to 11, 2022. For more information visit, their event page.

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About the author


Teamit helps growth-focused companies recruit top talent, scale quickly and build high performing technical teams in North America and South America.