As the new normal of work takes shape, how and where we work continues to evolve. While some companies are gearing up for a return to the office, employees may not be so thrilled with going back full time. According to The Future Forum report developed by Slack, only 17% of surveyed employees wishes to return to the office full time.

Since the pandemic, there’s been a distinct preference to work remotely. A survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management found that over half (52%) of 1,000 US workers would choose to permanently work from home on a full-time basis if given the option. As a result, many businesses are offering employees the option to work remotely as a talent acquisition and retention tool.

Managing a remote workforce has special considerations. We know. American Express Global Business Travel (Amex GBT) has had a virtual workforce with over 80% of our US-based employees working from home for over a decade. In more recent years, employee well-being has become increasingly important in creating a resilient workforce – and thus an integral element in the way you support remote workers.

With that in mind, let’s explore some ways you can help the health and headspace of employees working virtually.

Foster connections among co-workers

To make sure remote workers do not feel disconnected and detached from the company and each other, leaders need to focus on ways employees can bond as a community.

Video conferencing technology has been a wonderful tool for uniting teams virtually. A branded Zoom background featuring the organization’s logo can be one way to unify a dispersed workforce and show company pride.

Even employees working at home full time may crave face-to-face interactions from time to time. In-person collaboration is also essential for familiarizing new hires with the company culture and nurturing cohesiveness and creativity among team members. So consider arranging in-person gatherings on a monthly or quarterly basis.

Because many companies have reduced or given up their office space, bringing teams together in one room may entail travel to an off-site location, especially if team members live from away from each other or have moved since the pandemic.

Through our Workspaces platform, we offer clients the ability to book a private venue where individuals or small teams can work outside of the home for the day. For larger events, you may want to get your travel and/or events manager involved. They can help get people to the site and know how to orchestrate a memorable event that will engage and energize your people.

Focus on employees’ mental and emotional well-being

Even if your company offered programs to help employees cope with their emotional and mental struggles at the onset of COVID-19, leaders should recognize workers may be combatting long-brewing burnout and anxiety intensified by the challenging circumstances of the past couple of years.

Amex GBT offers a Work From Home Program page on our intranet site, in multiple languages, that features assessments to help them evaluate their work environment, well-being, office equipment, and health and safety. The page also includes details on how to order furniture for employees who apply to help furnish their home office.

Some corporates are taking a more direct approach to address employee stress. As noted in our new white paper, Why Business Travel Is the Center of the New Company Culture, some companies are shutting down for a wellness week and “synchronous” time off, offering free therapy, paying workers extra to take vacation days, and partnering with corporate well-being providers – all worthwhile investments. Prioritizing employees’ mental and emotional well-being can lead to a happier, more productive workforce and communicate your commitment to their welfare.

Promote physical health

Working from home can take a toll on the body. Hours sitting in front of the computer can cause eye strain and body aches. With the “restroom” and “cafeteria” next to them in their home office, employees lose opportunities to move and stretch their legs.

There is also the potential to slip into bad habits to cope with stress, such as emotional eating. To combat this unhealthy trend, the company’s HR department may wish to send useful tips on how to stay healthy, such as stretches to do at a desk, exercises they can do at home, and ways to boost their mindset.

As noted in our 2021 Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Report, we provide access to on-demand blogs and videos on various health-related topics, including stress management, work-life balance, and cancer prevention, to help virtual employees maintain their health.

To learn more about the many ways we care for our employees, check out our ESG report.

And for tips on how your company can adapt to the evolving work environment, take a look at our Why Business Travel Is the Center of the New Company Culture report.