Remote working and wellbeing

Employees love the freedom and flexibility of remote working. They’re less keen on the lack of human interaction and inability to switch off. Here’s how to support employee wellbeing when your people are working remotely.


Caring for the mental, physical and financial health of your employees matters. When employees are healthy, happy and feel good about themselves, they produce their best work, take fewer sick days and are less likely to look for a job elsewhere. All of which is good for building a strong, resilient business.

The importance of employee wellbeing shouldn’t be underestimated. A Gympass report shows that 83% of employees worldwide believe their wellbeing is just as important as salary, while 85% say they’d be more likely to stay in their current role if their employer took better care of their wellbeing.

For remote workers, wellbeing issues may be a little different to those of hybrid or on-site teams. After all, it’s not as if they can pop over to a colleague’s desk for a chat or help with a problem. Or meet work friends for lunch. Or gossip around the watercooler. Instead, interaction is limited to communication through a screen. This lack of spontaneity and face-to-face contact can be challenging. So how can you make it work?

The impact of remote working on wellbeing

The impact of remote working on wellbeing

Let’s begin with the benefits of remote working. For starters, it saves enduring the daily commute. Being stuck in a traffic jam or packed into a train like sardines isn’t many people’s idea of fun. When you can swap that for a lie-in, proper breakfast and taking the dog for a walk before strolling to your home office in your slippers, it doesn’t really compare. Even better if you have control over how and when you work.

With such freedoms, it’s little wonder that a massive 98% of workers want to work remotely , at least some of the time. But while remote working has a positive effect on wellbeing for many, it can also have its downsides.

Remote work can be isolating

The absence of the hubbub of a physical workplace, along with separation from colleagues, can lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation. In fact, 23% of remote workers say loneliness is their biggest struggle.

In particular, those with outgoing personalities who need to bounce off others may feel cut off socially. Remote workers who live alone can also feel depressed if they don’t have a meaningful conversation with anyone all day.

Missing daily human contact and the buzz of being part of a team can lead to chronic disengagement, fatigue and lack of focus.

Untangle work with Workplace

From informing everyone about the return to the office to adopting a hybrid way of working, Workplace makes work more simple.

Remote work can cause burnout

Remote work can cause burnout

It’s not always easy to maintain a healthy work-life balance when you work from home. Employees who have access to work tools 24/7 can easily drift into the habit of logging on after work hours. They may spend long periods of time at their desk without moving and feel obliged to contribute more than on-site workers to compensate for not being physically present in the office.

Before long, they’re finding it impossible to unplug from work. This ‘always on’ culture can cause high stress levels, eventually leading to burnout if left unresolved.

Signs remote workers are struggling

When employees are based in an office, it’s much easier to pick up on visual cues and behavioral changes that suggest they’re struggling, like being quieter than normal or looking exhausted.

Likewise, remote employees can’t simply knock on your door for a quick chat about any problems they may be experiencing. So managers of remote workers need to be extra intuitive. Fortunately, there are some signs of a decline in remote work wellbeing to look out for. These include:

The camera always being off in meetings

An employee who would previously join meetings on video but who now never has their camera on should raise a red flag. If an employee isn’t as visible as they used to be, they may be struggling emotionally. It could be that they’re not bothering to get dressed each morning and don’t want to face anyone because of a nosedive in their mental health.

Drops in productivity

Missed deadlines and a drop in output or quality of work should also set alarm bells ringing. This can indicate that an employee is having trouble concentrating or feeling increasingly detached from their work.

If you notice a sudden change in the work habits of a team member, it may be time to have a quiet word with them about how they’re feeling.

Slow responses to emails and texts

Remote employees might start feeling overwhelmed by all the messages they receive and are expected to deal with in a day.

A normally keen employee might suddenly start responding slowly to emails and messages and will only communicate when absolutely necessary. This suggests they’re feeling anxious and need space to breathe.

Less interaction in meetings

Employees who are struggling will probably be less forthcoming in virtual meetings and may appear more withdrawn or disinterested. They may also keep disappearing before the end of meetings or make excuses not to attend. When someone no longer feels connected, they’ll be less inclined to contribute.


Employers love hard workers, but there’s a fine line between being dedicated and working to the point of breakdown. If you notice that an employee is online at all hours, or you’re getting emails from them at odd times, they may be struggling to unplug from work.

In Buffer’s 2023 State of Remote Work report, 81% of remote workers admit to checking work emails outside of their scheduled hours, including 63% who do so on weekends and 34% while on vacation.

8 ways to support remote work wellbeing

8 ways to support remote work wellbeing

As we’ve established, managing remote employees is very different to managing employees who are physically present. Follow these tips for supporting a healthy remote working work-life balance:

  1. Survey employees to find out how they feel

    Confidential pulse surveys are a good way to gauge how your team are feeling. Ask things like whether they feel inspired and appreciated, and whether burnout is an issue. You could also find out if they think the business is run in a way that positively or negatively affects their wellbeing. Questions like this can provide valuable insight into mental health and remote working within your organization and show you what needs to be done to tackle stress.

    Given that fewer than one in four US employees say their organization cares about their wellbeing, be prepared for a reality check.

  2. Provide wellbeing benefits

    Offer remote employees the tools and services they need to improve their health and happiness. These could include: wellness apps, virtual fitness classes, gym membership, activity trackers, online wellness and financial coaches, perks and rewards that boost morale (e.g. free event tickets or foodie treats).

    The possibilities are endless. By offering benefits like these for free or at a discounted rate, you’re making them accessible to everyone, regardless of their financial situation.

  3. Hold regular check-ins

    Schedule regular one-to-one meetings with your remote employees, preferably over video call. Within these chats, really listen to what’s being said (and unsaid). Do they talk about work and their home life in a positive light? Or do they come across as cynical and weighed down by anxiety?

    You can get some great insights into remote work wellbeing through regular catch-ups with team members. Ultimately, these chats help to build trust so your employees feel supported and comfortable speaking openly with you.

  4. Enforce work-home boundaries

    For remote employees, the boundaries between work and home can become blurred. You need to communicate how important it is for employees to switch off at the end of the working day and take time for themselves.

    If you regularly notice someone working or sending emails out of hours, check in with them to make sure they’re not suffering burnout. Encourage them to create a dedicated workspace in their home without any distractions. They could also set up separate 'work' and 'personal' log-ins for their laptop so they can differentiate between the two.

  5. Provide flexibility

    If possible, allow flexible working arrangements. These can help remote employees better balance their personal and professional lives and avoid burnout.

    You may have remote workers who are struggling to juggle work with childcare or other family commitments. As long as they continue to meet their deadlines and produce work of a high standard, trusting them to set their own work schedule can massively improve their wellbeing.

  6. Encourage people to take leave

    Everyone needs time off to recharge their batteries and forget about work from time to time. Remind employees to use their annual leave, especially if they’re showing signs of exhaustion.

    Even if they’re not going away, it can still be beneficial to take some valuable R&R for themselves. Just catching up on sleep can do wonders for wellbeing.

  7. Create informal social spaces

    Remote workers can miss out on the social aspects of the workplace. You can get round this by creating an online community hub for team get-togethers. The metaverse even makes it possible to create avatars of each employee. They can then meet up with others for a coffee, chat or fun game in a 3D virtual environment – replicating the social nature of a physical workplace.

  8. Lead by example

    Leaders and managers or remote workers can set a good example by prioritizing their own wellbeing.

    Focus on your work-life balance. This means not checking any non-urgent emails out of work hours, taking a proper lunch break and honoring family commitments. By taking time out when you need to, you’ll inspire others to do the same.

    Over time, a remote working culture that values a positive work-life balance is good for business. Organizations that create a supportive environment and invest in health and wellness will get payback through increased productivity, enhanced reputation and greater engagement.

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