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Health and wellbeing

Nurture worker happiness and beat burnout.

By Darryn King

May 3, 2022

Async collaboration can allow for greater flexibility, promote less hyperactive and stressful work processes, and permit better work-life balance overall. But the remote, async-first company needs to remain vigilant and proactive about ensuring the mental wellbeing of its team members.

Clearly define work-life boundaries

Working from home can lead to a blurring of the boundaries between work and life, resulting in overwork and burnout. Establishing work-life boundaries, and expectations around work hours and being online/offline, are topics to be explicitly addressed in a company’s Communication guidelines. It’s also important that managers and leaders model healthy work behaviors and resist glorifying unhealthy ones.

Regular pulse checks

The surest way of finding out how an employee is feeling is to ask. One-on-one meetings between managers and their reports should be a safe space for such inquiries and for the discussion of personal issues. Recurring team meetings, too, can incorporate time for wellness checks. (See Meetings.)

Some companies employ regular automated polls as a way of gauging employees’ feelings of wellbeing on a regular basis. In a typical poll, which can be anonymized, team members indicate their level of agreement or disagreement with statements such as: My unique strengths are understood and valued; or, I’m satisfied with the amount of work I’m receiving. The resulting data can help bring issues to light, focus attention on areas of concern, and raise attentiveness to issues of wellbeing in general.

Read more: Ultranauts, a provider of software and data quality engineering services, is strongly committed to ensuring the wellbeing of its neurodiverse team. Read about it here.

Sick days

Illness is inevitable, and rest is essential for recuperation. It’s up to the individual team member to know when they need time off. But it’s up to the company to promote a culture of trust and openness, so team members feel comfortable taking necessary leave, instead of working through illness at further risk to their health.

With proper async processes in place — such as allowing work to be visible to the whole team and well documented — workers can be secure in the knowledge that projects can proceed in their absence if necessary.

Even before 2020, the world was in the midst of a loneliness epidemic. Remote work has only exacerbated the issue. What can orgs do to combat worker loneliness?

"With everyone working remotely, you have to be a lot clearer about expectations. When it comes to clearly defined work hours, a lot of leaders intentionally don't want to say, 'Actually, you're not expected to work past six.' They secretly want workers to work past six. The result is that people are working all the time. Which is unhealthy, unproductive, and, ultimately, dangerous.

If you believe that there are diminishing returns past a certain number of hours for workers — what number depends on the worker — then working all the time is unproductive. It's going to lower your quality of decision-making. It's going to make you more error-prone.

You need to ask questions such as: What time do I expect you to be online? What time do I expect you to not be online? What do I expect when you go run an errand? Do you need to tell me if it's five minutes? Do you need to tell me it's two hours? Why do you need to tell me?"

— Rajesh Anandan, CEO, Ultranauts

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