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Sunday, 14 February 2021

Neverending WFH leads to loneliness and less productivity among employees

WFH Loneliness — the epidemic within the pandemic: Some 61% of US workers reported feeling lonely during work from home, while only 37% of full-time workers said they exhibit “high levels of resilience,” meaning they can adapt and recover from challenging circumstances, according to a poll carried out by medical insurer Cigna carried by Forbes. While no similar data exists for Egypt, it’s been a frequent topic of conversation in group Whatsapps of late.

Of the employees who reported a feeling of loneliness, more than one in 10 admitted that the quality of their work was suffering and they were also five times more likely to miss work due to stress. But the impact is also not the same across age groups: Younger Gen Z respondents seem to be the most affected and were more than twice as likely as Baby Boomers to say they feel abandoned by their coworkers when under pressure at work.

Now, add a drop in WFH productivity to the mix: When the world shifted suddenly to WFH, workplaces saw what is now known as panic productivity: The initial adrenaline boost that spurred employees to pick up the pace in hopes of staying visible and relevant, out of fear of losing their job. This explains a jump in productivity levels reported in some businesses and a host of think pieces about the benefits of WFH. Many workers are now apparently hitting a wall as panic productivity dissipates with time, giving way to burnout. “Increased productivity” has come at the cost of more time spent on work, with many producing results during times when they might have been commuting or out of the office.

As a business, what can you do to contain all of this? There’s general consensus that companies should encourage their employees to strike a healthy work-life balance, which has been proven to have positive long-term outcomes on the quality of work. But realistically, what does that mean? Having a culture of open dialogue is important to boost employee’s resilience and that definitely includes a productive way to let employees air out their frustrations. Managers also have a big role to play to enhance teamwork and assign tasks based on who does what best.

If you’re about to dip your toes in a new WFH position, here’s what you should look for: Picture this. You’re in a remote interview, looking presentable from the waist up, but you have no idea how to ask what the company’s WFH culture looks like. It’s not something we had to inquire about in the past. Builtin suggests you ask about how the remote onboarding would look like, how and on what platforms the company communicates, if they have a head of remote or someone else who is in charge of making WFH flow, and finally, how flexible the work hours are.

Just remember to GROW: Cigna developed the G.R.O.W. framework, which includes four strategies for responding to any tough situation with resilience: Ground yourself in the situation; Recognize what you can control; Organize the resources you need; and Work with your community for support. It’s important to stay in the present and avoid stressing about what’s to come, especially with unpredictability being the key theme of the past year — and the road ahead.

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