A Google employee posted an anonymous survey asking whether working from home was hurting workers' mental health, and two-thirds of the nearly 10,000 respondents said yes (GOOG, AAPL, CRM, MSFT)
This month a Google employee posted a poll on the social network Blind asking employees if remote work was hurting their mental health. More than 9,700 employees of different companies responded, with two-thirds saying they were feeling stressed by working from home. The companies where the most employees feel remote work is hurting their mental health are Yelp, Facebook, PayPal, and Yahoo. The companies where the fewest employees feel remote work stress are Snapchat, Workday, and T-Mobile. The more than 600 comments on the poll provide a fascinating window into home offices with some feeling stressed, some enjoying remote work, and some fine with remote work but disliking quarantined life overall. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
In early July, an apparent Google employee posted a survey on the anonymous social network Blind asking a simple question: "Is WFH hurting your mental health?" The poll quickly racked up responses and comments, with two-thirds of the more than 9,700 employees answering that yes, it was. In order to join Blind, you must use a work email, which then marks you on the platform as an employee of that company (though it's possible to keep an account active even after you've left). Based on responses, the companies where the most employees feel remote work is hurting their mental health are Yelp, Facebook, PayPal, and Yahoo, with more than 80% of employees each. Snapchat, Workday, and T-Mobile, meanwhile, ranked lowest, with fewer than 55% of respondents at each saying that yes, it was affecting their mental health.
Generally, Blind posts its own polls, so the fact that a Google employee asked this one is unique, the company said, describing the more than 600 comments as "free-flow emotional responses [that] show how personal all these obstacles feel." The most-liked comment posted in response to the poll was from an engineer at Microsoft, who wrote: "The extended working hours and no line between home and work are certainly hurting." It garnered 145 likes. The next-most-liked comment reflected a different common sentiment. An engineer at Algorand, a Boston firm that helps companies use blockchain wrote: "The office was never a place of socialization for me. I'd say this isolation is hurting my mental health, sure, but WFH isn't the key. WFH has been a blessing honestly. Screw offices." That post received 129 likes. Many of the comments fell into three main categories: Feeling the strain
A Siemens employee wrote: "I think everyone is starting to feel the pinch. The sad thing is no one knows when this is going to end. That's the most frustrating part." (54 likes) A Yelp engineer employee wrote: "Yeah, it is. I feel like I might be developing PTSD from everything that's going on. I like having the option to WFH. I hate being forced to do so. Not being able to really go anywhere or do anything doesn't help, either. Add in the rest of 2020, and I'm just about ready to say f*** it and peace out for a year or so, except that's my mind writing checks my bank account literally can't cash." (14 likes) A Facebook employee wrote: "I just struggle being alone all day. Feel so down and lonely. (26 likes) An Amazon worker wrote: "Yes. I've had mental health issues in the past but it's definitely worse. The social aspect of going into work was more important than I realized." (11 likes) An Apple employee wrote: "I am much less productive working from home, and thus have to work longer hours, and most of my waking hours are focused on work. So there is no more work/life balance." (10 likes)
Loving remote work
A tech operations worker at Lyft wrote: "I'm loving the WFH. I eat better cause I cook my own food, I can take my 1 HR nap on days I need it, don't need to do Starbucks run, I don't need to throw headphones on to avoid small talks while jamming, and I don't have to use public restroom. Productivity is exactly the same with less stress. So yeah, all good here." (18 likes) A Hulu worker wrote: "WFH is great. Shorter more intentional working hours. Not having to see people you don't want to see. Dealing with way less microaggressions. Can say mental health has gone up :) (14 likes) A worker at the self-driving car company Aurora wrote: "I enjoy seeing my wife hrs everyday and helping her when she sees a spider." (17 likes) A Box worked noted a frequent theme among those enjoying remote work – not having to commute: "Nope, commute was killing my mental health far worse. Never want to go back to office." (18 likes) A Raytheon worker wrote: "Far more productive WFH. Never gave a sh** about what coworkers did last weekend or their sh***y kids. I come to work for work, not to make friends. Have enough of those and most coworkers are pretty boring. If you can't make friends and have a social life that doesn't involve coworkers, that's pretty telling. (14 likes)
Liking remote work, but not COVID-19
A Salesforce engineer wrote: "For me, working from home is fine. It's the closing of all my social outlets (friends, gym, sports, etc.) that were typically my outlet that is getting to me." (13 likes) A Vodaphone employee wrote: "WFH is one of the best things. However the corona and the lockdown is the only thing driving us crazy. If last year was WFH, I would've worked from the beach, cafe, village, forest – anywhere any place. By the way, I commuted 3hrs each day to get to and from work :/. (13 likes) A Capital One developer wrote: "Is work from home hurting mental health or complete social distancing including outside of work hurting mental health? I think pre/post covid you'd get a very different answer. Work from home is awesome. Being trapped in your home without any social activities is not." (10 likes) An Apple employee wrote: "Yes and no. It's hell with kids, but I've lost 16 pounds and am working out every morning. So if Covid doesn't kill me, it'll make me live longer." (13 likes)
Experts say the shift to remote work has meant a significant adjustment. "Working in unusual environments can be stressful and distracting," Stanford psychology professor Jeff Hancock wrote in a recent report about stress and online communications. "Prior to the pandemic, people were used to operating in distinct spaces — home, work, social — and we had different ways of understanding the world in each space. The events of 2020 mean these spaces have blurred, and we've had to quickly learn new ways of operating."SEE ALSO: Remote work stress leads to costly email mistakes, data shows Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Leslie Odom, Jr.'s $500,000 gamble that led to a starring role in 'Hamilton'
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During lockdown millions started WFH – and most of us don’t want to go back. In...During lockdown millions started WFH – and most of us don’t want to go back. In just a few months the landscape of work, family and city life has altered dramatically - but are all the changes positive?There’s a man sitting at the first-floor window of the house that lies on the other side of my back fence. It’s early August, the weather is sweltering, and his window is wide open. He’s talking on a hands-free phone, laughing in that ingratiating manner that suggests a large payday is at stake. He speaks in a fashionable sales patter that sounds similar to real conversation, but crucially isn’t, and he’s practically broadcasting his pitch to the neighbourhood. WTF? I want to shout, but I already know the answer: WFH.With the exception of Covid-19 itself, working from home has been the big story of 2020. I’ve been home-based for more than 20 years and for most of that time, before my neighbour began advertising his WFH status, I was a local exception, left to my own devices in tranquil isolation. No one was much interested in the emotional dynamics of my daily work regime. But since the lockdown emptied the nation’s offices, it’s become a national topic of conversation. Continue reading...
Leaders from companies like PwC and FlexJobs share their best advice for creating an inclusive company culture now that work from home is extended
It can be hard to maintain a thriving company culture when your entire workforce is remote. ...It can be hard to maintain a thriving company culture when your entire workforce is remote. About 62% of working professionals were genuinely concerned about maintaining a corporate culture during the coronavirus pandemic, according to Insider's Human Impact of Business Transformation research of 1,000 executive and entry-level professionals. Business Insider spoke with business leaders and remote work experts on how employers can stay connected with their staff during the coronavirus pandemic. Amity Milhiser, chief clients officer at professional services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, recommended that managers focus on building relationships and scheduling regular check-ins with their teams. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. Since the coronavirus outbreak, businesses around the world have been forced to work remotely, and many companies like Twitter and Google, are prepared to work-from-home long term. But a sustainable work-from-home environment also requires some major changes. It's harder to build strong work relationships virtually because employees can't interact face-t0-face with their colleagues. According to Insider's Human Impact of Business Transformation research of 1,000 executive and entry-level professionals, 62% were genuinely concerned about maintaining a corporate culture during the coronavirus pandemic. Though more than half of executives felt COVID-19 positively impacted their companies' culture, only 37% of mid-management and 32% of entry-level staffers felt the same. Put simply: Maintaining a company culture remotely will require some additional effort from employees of all levels. Here's what experts recommend doing to help workers feel happy and included while working remotely. Prioritize relationship building Get to know each other. Amity Milhiser, chief clients officer at professional services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), previously told Business Insider that creating an environment where employees are happy makes it more likely that they'll stick around. Managers can do that by showing empathy, building relationships, and supporting workers, she said. Leaders should check in on people to see how they are coping. This can be done by conducting company-wide surveys and in-person check-ins, the executive added. "Figure out a way to preserve the part of our culture that you most want to preserve, and most of the time, it always goes back to being there for your people," Milhiser said. Lynda Gratton, an executive faculty director at the London Business School and a panelist on a recent webinar about virtual work, recommended that managers schedule "water cooler" conversations, virtual coffee dates, or casual social breaks to stay connected with their staff. Bonding with your colleagues doesn't mean you have to always talk about work, either. In fact, employees should take the time to have more conversations about their values and how they're feeling, and brainstorm ways to be more fulfilled at work, Gratton said. Offer flexibility A traditional 9-to-5 work schedule might not work for everyone. Managers should care more about seeing results rather than tracking the hours spent in the virtual office. Team leaders can ensure peak productivity by setting specific goals and defining expectations early, said Jill Felska, director of people and culture at the cloud-based software company Limelight Health. Promoting flexibility can also mean that employers provide internal resources, like employee resource groups, childcare and mental health benefits, and more paid time off. A growing list of companies are doing just that. For example, Merit, a platform for digital credentials, is offering its employees and their spouses free access to 24/7 mental wellness coaching. Professional services firm Ernst & Young also created a program that connects employees to healthcare professionals at anytime of the day. Leverage technology to virtually connect You can still work as a team through a screen. Brie Weiler Reynolds, a career development manager at remote work HR company FlexJobs, recommended that leaders find creative ways to engage employees during meetings. For example, you can take advantage of chat functions embedded in conferencing apps, or you can share your screen within them. You can ask open-ended questions that fuel further discussion, and you can have pop quizzes halfway through the meeting to check if people are still paying attention, she said. A list of tech companies including Microsoft, Google, and Cisco have also made their services more accessible to small companies. For instance, Cisco offered a free version of its virtual meeting service Webex. Even if companies are in cost-cutting mode, tech investments can lead to better employee experiences, Milhiser said. SEE ALSO: How to use a simple time-management trick invented by President Eisenhower to become more productive and less stressed at work Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: What it takes to be a PGA Tour caddie
A top PwC exec shares how companies can maintain the well-being of workers in a remote setting, and what the future has in store for the virtual workforce
During a particularly stressful time, like the novel coronavirus pandemic, it's important that leaders develop new...During a particularly stressful time, like the novel coronavirus pandemic, it's important that leaders develop new methods for checking in on their employees. Michael Fenlon, chief people officer at PwC, a global professional services firm, told Business Insider he uses a number of strategies, including virtual town halls, to see how his workforce is feeling. By providing a space for employees to talk, leaders can identify gaps and access their employee's well-being, Fenlon said. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. As social distancing becomes the new normal, leaders should regularly check in on how isolated employees are feeling. That's according to Michael Fenlon, chief people officer at professional services firm PwC, which has 55,000 employees in the US alone. He told Business Insider that providing workers a safe space to discuss how they're feeling can offer insight into their well-being. "We need to be listening, and be very connected to understand what our people need and how we can best support them," he said. Today, more employees than ever before are adjusting to life in social isolation. Long periods of isolation can be damaging. Experts say being separated from others can drive feelings of loneliness, anxiety, and depression. This is why some employers are adding new mental health benefits to help employees cope. PwC, for example, introduced well-being coaching sessions where employees can reach out to a professional coach to discuss anything that may be causing them stress. At PwC, Fenlon uses virtual town halls, "Feedback Fridays," and activities such as sharing work-from-home photos to ease anxiety and give employees the tools necessary to be successful, even during times of stress. Fenlon recently spoke with Caroline Hroncich, an associate editor at Business Insider, about mental health benefits in the workplace, improving the well being of employees in a remote setting, and the future of a virtual workforce. This interview has been lightly edited for clarity. Customized mental health support is key Hroncich: How do you support your employees' mental health? Fenlon: One longstanding priority is something we call "Be Well, Work Well," which includes physical, emotional, spiritual well-being. It includes mental well-being and mental health as well. That's not new. We've been working in this area for years now and it's been a top priority for our firm. We're really trying to customize the support we provide. [We have] a large in-house executive coaching group in our firm. They are now providing one-on-one coaching sessions on well-being. In sessions they cover everything from dealing with stress and anxiety to "I can't focus or concentrate," and "how do I work effectively in an all-remote [environment.]" If you need another type of support, let's say more formal therapy or some sort of treatment, that will also then be delivered virtually. We also have something called "citizen-led virtual communities" [online communities where employees can come together and discuss how they're feeling.] We're running a session on managing the stress of having young children at home and homeschooling issues. This is an opportunity for parents to come together and share ideas. Hroncich: Why is it important for companies to invest in mental health benefits right now? Fenlon: Well, it's extraordinarily important, and maybe these things maybe should seem obvious, but I think maybe just to state it clearly, this is a moment where we've got to invest to live our values. I think most companies have values that relate to caring, to people first, if you will, and investing not only in the health and safety of people but in the well-being of their people. We want to enable our people to be at their best. And this is a period of time where obviously we're all feeling a high level of uncertainty. Soliciting feedback from employees is crucial for understanding how they feel Caroline Hroncich: How has the coronavirus pandemic altered work for your employees? Michael Fenlon: Some of our people live alone by themselves. Maybe that can engender a sense of isolation and loneliness that we're certainly not accustomed to because we've never worked full time in social distancing. Others may live in crowded apartments with roommates and others that they may enjoy spending time with, but now it's kind of 24/7. So that creates a set of challenges. Many of us are now in circumstances, not of our own choosing, where we're juggling many different demands: health and safety for ourselves and our family; young kids now at home who have homeschooling agendas and they need help; toddlers coming in the middle of a conference call. [At Pwc,] we've done something where we've asked our people across the firm to share pictures of their new [workspace] and we call it their "why" and their "how." Some folks are sending in photographs of working at their desk. Maybe their dog is on their lap, maybe their kids are on their lap. All sorts of pictures of different arrangements that make it real. The first step is just acknowledging the situation and making it okay to recognize that we're all going to be juggling a lot right now and we shouldn't make assumptions. Hroncich: How do you assess how your employees are feeling during the pandemic? Fenlon: We have something called "Feedback Fridays." Each Friday we post a few questions that go to everyone and we get feedback that way. But this pandemic is a time, obviously, where we have an increased need for communication. Right now, every single Wednesday we are doing a town hall with all of our partners and we do a town hall with all of our people in our firm. We have segments on mental health and well-being, how we can support each other, and how to work virtually. It's also a time for people to submit questions and to let us know and what's top of mind for them. Some of those questions we're able to address in real-time. We also created a site, a COVID-19 site, that's a one-stop-shop on our internal site for our people. It's loaded with FAQ information links. The coronavirus pandemic is an 'unprecedented experiment' of virtual work for employees and leaders Hroncich: What kind of advice would you give to people leaders who are managing remote teams during the pandemic? Fenlon: This is a time for clarity and decisiveness overall. And it's got to start with tone at the top. There's absolutely no substitute for direct communication at this time from CEOs and other organizational leaders. This is a time for visibility, and it's a time for authenticity. What do I mean by that? Being open, that all of us are going through this together and that we're all going to be having feelings of fear or anxiety or concern. That's normal. That's to be expected in this abnormal situation that we're all going through. It's a time when we have to communicate clarity and direction and operate from a position of values and what we stand for. At the same time, be listening and very connected to understand what our people need and how we can best support them. Whether that's [through] new benefits or other kinds of resources that people need to work effectively in a 100% remote work from home environment. Hroncich: What are some of the things people and HR leaders are going to learn from this experience? Fenlon: I think overall it's in some respects an unprecedented experiment of working virtually. I don't think there will be a return to what was before. I think a lot of us are learning a lot. And we're going to apply some of these lessons now going forward. I think there will be even greater openness to virtual work arrangements, a recognition that teams can operate effectively virtually. If companies had not recognized the importance of supporting employees through mental health benefits, it has be crystal clear now how important those are. Not just to their personal well-being, but to the ability of any workforce to really intervene to the fullest, be at their best, and to feel a deep sense of commitment as well.SEE ALSO: How to make sure remote workers feel like they're part of a bigger office 'family' Join the conversation about this story »