Thriving, not just surviving: a guide to remote work wellness in 2024

8 Minutes

Ever since the global life-changing pandemic, the working landscape has undergone a transformative shift with the rise of remote work. During the beginning of COVID-19, when everyone was working from home, no questions asked, and it actually seemed to work out alright. Since then, many companies have moved from a traditional office mindset to a more fluid one where employees are not confined to a physical space. 

Advanced communication technologies, coupled with a growing emphasis on flexibility and autonomy, has propelled remote work into the mainstream, redefining the way individuals and organizations approach their daily tasks and schedules. 

This evolution, while offering unprecedented freedom and adaptability, comes hand-in-hand with a set of challenges and opportunities that demand thoughtful consideration. While this flexibility offers undeniable benefits – from avoiding rush hour traffic to crafting a work-life rhythm that suits us – it also presents unique challenges to our overall well-being. 

Here in 2024, prioritizing remote work wellness is no longer an afterthought, but an essential element for a thriving workforce and fulfilled employees.

Some remote work stats.

  • 16% of companies operate fully remote, 44% of companies don’t allow remote work at all
  • 12.7% of full-time employees work from home
  • 28.2% work a hybrid model
  • 98% of workers want to work remote at least some of the time
  • 58% of workers in the US think they can do their job remotely, at least part of the time
  • Remote work is the number two most popular benefit among employees (77%), only beaten by an attractive salary (83%)
  • Being able to work remotely can increase employee happiness by up to 20%

There are challenges… 

People credit working from home with being able to get more things done thanks to fewer interruptions, a less noisy workspace, and having a more comfortable work environment. Still, one of the biggest hurdles of working from home can be maintaining focus and productivity. Being at home still allows for distractions such as the allure of the fridge and getting yourself a little treat, having family members interrupting you to chat or ask questions, or even the siren song of social media scrolling can easily disrupt your workflow. 

Even more so is the lack of physical separation between work and personal life, which can lead to feelings of burnout. It’s easy to find yourself working late without the natural cues of leaving an office environment to signal the end of your workday. How easy is it to tell yourself you’re just going to check one or two emails after dinner and suddenly find yourself a couple hours later checking off tasks in your project management software? 

… and there are opportunities.

When working remotely, you tend to have more control over your own schedule, allowing you to manage personal commitments and errands without disrupting your workflow. Setting clear boundaries between your work and personal space such as creating a dedicated workspace and a consistent schedule can all help you stay focused and productive. This leads to a better work-life balance and a more fulfilling overall experience. 

The lack of a commute too can give you back some time that you can use to finally make that recipe that you’ve had bookmarked for months or to get outside with friends or family for a walk or workout. 

Technological innovations for keeping you well at work.

Technology plays a major role in shaping the remote work experience. Using connectivity apps such as Zoom or Skype and project management tools like Productive, Asana or Wrike mean you can stay connected to your team but you need to be careful with usage. According to Forbes magazine, 69% of remote workers experience increased burnout from digital communication tools. 

This is where wellness apps can help us develop healthy habits. Tools like Headspace, a meditation app, and Freedom, a focus and productivity app, can be valuable resources to help you manage stress and stay focused while keeping you on track for healthy work-life balance.  

Ditching the clock and embracing flexibility.

The days of the rigid 9-to-5 grind are shifting and fading away to embrace a more flexible schedule with more autonomy. Companies and managers are recognizing that a happy and productive workforce isn’t confined by a traditional schedule. According to Gitnux, when weighing employment offers, 80% of employees find that flexible work arrangements are a decision factor.

Some of us are up and at it early in the morning, buzzing with creativity at dawn. Others are night owls, hitting their stride after the sun goes down. Rigid schedules often leave most feeling sluggish and unproductive and aren’t really setting anyone up for success.

Flexible scheduling allows us to tailor our work hours to our natural rhythms. The early bird can conquer emails before others are awake while the night owl can tackle complex tasks in the quiet evening hours. This in turn fosters a sense of ownership and control, leading to more engagement and a happier work experience for employees.

Taking care of the whole you.

We’re all becoming increasingly aware of the importance of mental well-being, and companies are finally catching on. Here’s why mental health support is becoming a key feature of corporate wellness programs.

Gone are the days of sweeping mental health struggles under the rug. Companies are recognizing that a healthy and productive workforce needs support beyond just physical well-being. In fact, a 2023 study by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) found that 84% of HR professionals believe mental health is an important factor in employee wellbeing.

There are a few ways for companies to support mental health support:

  • Virtual counseling sessions: Remote options help make professional help more accessible than ever. Employees can connect with therapists from the comfort and privacy of their own homes. 
  • Mindfulness workshops: These sessions teach techniques for managing stress, improving focus, and promoting emotional well-being.
  • Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs): These confidential programs offer short-term counseling, financial guidance, and even legal consultations to help with life’s challenges.

By offering these resources, companies are sending a powerful message: we care about your overall well-being. This fosters a more supportive and open work environment, where employees feel comfortable seeking help if they need it.

Remember, prioritizing mental health isn’t just good for employees – it benefits businesses too. Studies have shown a positive correlation between employee mental health and productivity, engagement, and reduced absenteeism. 

Just because you’re remote doesn’t mean you’re alone.

Working from home day after day without the social interactions you would have in an office can sometimes lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness. Using collaborative tools and platforms for team-building activities like Figma for FigJams is a great way to stay connected to your coworkers and build camaraderie. Our team, for example, host virtual jeopardy games for healthy competition and lots of laughs. 

You can also create virtual social events and informal channels on your communication tools as outlets for your staff to be able to interact with each other outside of work conversation. 

Embrace the physical side of wellness too. 

When a person works from home, they tend to not get as much movement or take as many breaks as someone who’s commuting in and working from an office. 

Our home offices, however comfortable, aren’t always designed for prolonged periods of sitting. 

  1. Follow the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes look at something at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. This helps reduce eye strain and gives your brain a break. 
  2. Make sure your work setup is ergonomically correct. There’s nothing worse than having a sore back when you’re working. Ensuring you have an ergonomic workspace, including proper seating and monitor placement, is crucial. If you can, go a step further and get a standing desk that allows you to be in different positions throughout the day. 
  3. Take regular breaks. Stand up from your desk and have a stretching session or clear your head with a mini meditation. 

Working from home well. 

Remote work, despite its challenges, offers a tremendous opportunity. It allows people to seamlessly intertwine career responsibilities with personal activities, fostering a more flexible and adaptive lifestyle. By prioritizing remote work wellness, building routines, and utilizing the support systems available, we can turn the challenges into strengths, fostering a thriving and productive remote workforce.