Ensuring Digital Well-Being Of Remote Workers With A Digital Workplace
Nuno Barboza, VP of Strategy and Deployment, J&J, North America, once said, “We have a tremendous opportunity to improve well-being from a tech perspective. When the pandemic began, we were able to quickly transition most of our workers to work remotely. By enabling people to operate successfully, we can help create a more balanced individual, with lower levels of conflict and stress.”
Digital well-being has become the hottest buzzword since 2020. And for good reasons too. While the term doesn’t have a formal definition, it simply means leveraging technology to ensure employees’ physical and mental well-being.
With most employees working from home on the digital workspace, grief, stress, and fatigue have slowly crept in. Employees are spending hours in front of their screens. They are isolated from their colleagues, grappling with the realities of the pandemic and the anxiety of losing loved ones to the disease. Coupled with the challenges of information overload and the problems in communicating and collaborating effectively from home and employee well-being has undoubtedly taken a toss for the worse.
So, how can organizations ensure the digital well-being of remote workers with a digital workplace? Let’s find out.
What Role Does Technology Play In Elevating Employee Stress, Fatigue, And Burnout?
When we reflect on our digital work and home lives, the overload we experience includes not just the amount of information flowing to us but also the interplay of communication across a variety of channels with their often interruptive nature, the number of applications and interfaces we need to move between constantly, as well as the often rich and extensive features they offer.
Indeed, technology has had a significant impact on employee well-being. There are many drivers of digital overload that employees experience in their daily lives:
1. Sheer Volume Of Communication
In 2021, it is predicted that 320 billion emails will be exchanged each day — up from 269 billion in 2017. Add to that the overload of incoming messages from enterprise social networks and instant messaging applications, forcing employees to process information and deal with notifications from different channels.
2. App Fatigue
Employees switch between 35 applications that are critical to their work more than 1100 times a day.
An enterprise that uses siloed apps and tools requires employees to navigate multiple tabs a day, leading to what is commonly known as login fatigue.
Login fatigue is often the primary cause of decreased productivity at work. Moreover, varying interfaces and passwords increase employee effort as they try to access everyday apps to get their job done. On average, employees enter passwords on websites and apps 154 times per month.
3. Blurring Lines Between Personal And Professional Lives
While digital workplaces allow for flexible working — anytime and anywhere — they have eroded the boundaries between work and life, as employees find themselves working more than usual, leaving no time for self or family.
Recently, investment banking firm, Goldman Sachs, made headlines when a group of young analysts complained about 100+ hour work-weeks, leading to a detrimental impact on their mental and physical health.
4. Social Isolation
Job insecurity or even the fear of missing out may lead to employees engaging obsessively with colleagues and seniors and responding to texts and emails even after work hours.
However, that doesn’t compensate for the social isolation they may still feel. Employees may miss face-to-face interactions and their daily dose of news updates, discussions, and occasional run-ins at the coffee machine.
So how can organizations improve the digital well-being of a remote workforce? Let’s find out.
Best Practices To Ensure Digital Well-Being For Employees
1. Bring All Essential Apps And Tools Under A Single Platform.
Implement a modern intranet in your organization to give single-window access to all the apps, tools, and information that employees need for their work.
This will reduce “login fatigue” and enhance efficiency as employees wouldn’t have to switch between several tabs while working.
Modern intranets provide flexible integrations with various apps and tools for HR, IT, and CRM, such as Office 365, Workday, SAP, etc.
2. Reduce The Time To Find Information
When employees are working from different locations, their inability to find the right information at the right time hampers productivity and adds to workplace stress.
However, with an organized knowledge management system located within the intranet, enterprises can hold all their documents and information in one place.
Furthermore, a cognitive search engine with capabilities, such as meta-tagging, AI-enabled personalization, and intelligent taxonomy, can help locate files and other data anywhere on the intranet, thus improving employee efficiency.
Hence, with a cognitive search engine, employees get a universal search experience that helps them find relevant information from all internal and external apps, including unstructured data such as images and videos.
You can also embed an AI-powered chatbot to fetch the required information for employees, anytime and from anywhere.
3. Establish Two-Way Communication
Well-being begins with establishing two-way communication at the workplace. Encourage your employees to communicate about how they feel and how their personal and work needs have changed during the pandemic.
At the same time, by sharing weekly stories and testimonials on the intranet on their well-being, leaders can motivate employees to speak up and remove the stigma around the subject.
4. Build Awareness Around Well-Being Initiatives
To encourage conversation around digital well-being, leaders must motivate employees to create blogs and videos, share their stories, and do virtual check-ins with a well-being coach regularly.
Additionally, they must populate their intranet with message boards, policy documents, company-supported resources, and national helpline numbers for well-being initiatives.
AI-driven personalization can help deliver news and well-being updates based on an employee’s role, geography, interests, etc.
5. Empower Employees To Connect Socially With Virtual Water Coolers
In the physical office space, a run-in at the water cooler, a quick coffee break, or a short conversation in the hallway allowed employees to discuss the latest news and exchange ideas.
How to build such an informal environment with a digital workplace? It’s easy.
A virtual water cooler, a digital version of the water cooler at the office, can provide a social collaborative space for employees to stay updated on what’s trending, discuss the latest news, and talk to subject matter experts based on their roles and location for help on current projects.
Moreover, employees can set up department-wise or project-based communities, or even social communities with like-minded people (Eg., football groups) to discuss the latest news and updates.
6. Employee Appreciation
To motivate employees, organizations can highlight employee rewards, appreciation notes, and display badges for the “highest-performing” employees on the intranet’s home page.
This can play a significant role in boosting workforce morale, especially at a time when a majority of the employees are working remotely, in silos, and need organizations to provide the necessary recognition and acknowledgment of their efforts.
7. Encourage Innovation
Another way to engage employees and ensure digital well-being is to facilitate innovation amongst them.
An idea management system embedded within the intranet can help employees brainstorm and share their ideas around well-being initiatives and common organizational challenges.
Moreover, gamification-based idea sharing can add to the fun quotient and reward employees for the best ideas.
8. Organize Weekly Health Sessions
With limited access to gyms and health centers taking a toll on the employees’ physical well-being, companies can organize virtual dance and yoga sessions to give employees a break from their daily schedules and alleviate their physical and mental stress.
9. Allow Employees To “Switch Off.”
Gone are the 9–5 days. Today’s employees find it hard to limit their work hours, with 39% stating technology makes it harder for them to switch off when at home or with friends.
Encouraging their staff to not contact colleagues outside set work hours, unless urgent, can help organizations relieve employee anxiety, fatigue, and stress.
How Can Acuvate Ensure Digital Well-Being For Remote Workers?
The global corporate wellness market is likely to expand at a compound annual growth rate of 6.9% to reach US$97.4 billion by 2027.
At Acuvate, we help clients ensure the digital well-being of remote workers with Mesh 3.0, our autonomous SharePoint intranet solution for enterprises.
Mesh is built with the best of Microsoft technologies, including Office Graph, LUIS, Azure Search Services, and MS Natural Language Stack, and keeps employees connected, engaged, and motivated with capabilities, such as –
- Internal communication tools
- Collaboration tools
- Azure cognitive enterprise search
- AI-driven content personalizers
- Knowledge mining
- Expertise finder
- Multilingual capabilities
To know more about Mesh 3.0, please feel free to schedule a personalized consultation with our experts.