The pros and cons of remote working
Technology has become integral to our lives in general, not just our well-being. Much of our personal relationships is now mediated by technologies that didn’t exist 10 years ago, and the concept of the global village has come right into our own homes. It would be impossible for the modern workplace to ignore these trends; they provide the opportunity to do business more effectively and to improve levels of staff satisfaction, but also present the challenge of changing behaviours and expectations.
Remote working is now a reality for many employees. People can access email and their own desktop from home, dial in to meetings and network online. It’s now easier to be just as productive at home as in the office, and combine work with other commitments such as looking after children while maintaining greater control over their time and workload.
The other side of the flexible working coin is that employees can now be permanently connected to their work, in and out of office hours. This creates the temptation to work too many hours – turning on the laptop first thing in the morning and answering emails on weekends. It is the responsibility of the line manager to make sure that the right expectations are set so that employees don’t feel under pressure or at risk of burn-out.
How the well-being community benefits
Online training tools and processes are vital to overcoming these obstacles. Questionnaires, for example, allow users to retain a degree of privacy and confidentiality, while enabling providers to collect large sets of data based on users’ responses. In turn, the data collected can be used to help guide the development of better tools. The well-being community benefits from online resources such as training or confidential reports which supplement the support they receive from line managers or well-being professionals. Online systems are capable of storing substantial data over time and also providing instant benchmarking comparisons. For well-being professionals, technology enables more effective sharing of information, case studies, specific initiatives and interventions that can be used to benefit the whole community. The launch of the Good Day at Work online service enables individuals, HR and well-being professionals to share resources and build the impetus for widespread well-being practice, for free and without leaving their office or home.
Challenging attitudes of senior managers
The awareness of the importance of well-being is growing and improving within organisations but there is still some way to go before it is seen as a priority by chief executives and top teams in organisations. In many organisations, fundamental culture change is still needed to alter the mindset of senior management and the working culture. Technology itself cannot bring about the required change but it can be harnessed to help to influence the thinking of top teams and then to support and drive culture change throughout the organisation.