Global HR 8 min

How to create a healthy work environment for office and remote employees

Written by Barbara Matthews
June 25, 2024
Barbara Matthews


share to linkedInshare to Twittershare to Facebook
Link copied
to clipboard

A typical employee spends an average of 1,892 hours at work per year. If team members work well together, that’s time well spent.

Without a healthy work environment, massive turnover and “quiet quitting” is an ever-present risk. In fact, 81% of job-seekers look for workplaces that support employee mental health. 

You can’t leave it up to employees to create a healthy work environment themselves. It starts with leadership and a clear strategy. 

In this article, we break down what a healthy work environment looks like and how you can make sure this happens in your organization.

What is a healthy work environment?

A healthy work environment is one where employees feel supported and valued. It accounts for the following points:

  • Physical health

  • Mental health

  • Emotional well-being

It’s a safe place where ideas are welcomed and efforts are rewarded. As a result, employees are more inclined to stick around. 

Here's how the World Health Organization (WHO) defines a healthy workplace: 

"A healthy working environment is one in which workers and managers collaborate to use a continual improvement process to protect and promote the health, safety, and well-being of all workers, and the sustainability of the workplace..."

What are some signs of a healthy work environment?

Here are three signs that you have a healthy work environment.

1. Employees are inspired

In a healthy work environment, employees know their work matters to the company. They’re motivated by their strong connection to their job and the organization. They also know their work is challenging but doable. Managers don’t overwhelm them with anxiety from hard-to-reach quotas or impossible metrics.

2. Employees take responsibility

Consider how your staff reacts when they make a mistake. If they try to blame others or act defensively, the work environment is likely fear-based and punitive.

Employees in a healthy work environment know they don't have to hide. Their boss and coworkers are empathetic and focused on solving problems. That frees up the team to own their mistakes and — most importantly — to learn from them.

3. Managers encourage downtime

Hustle culture is great for boosting productivity temporarily, but it isn’t sustainable. Employees — even the most dedicated and hardworking — need downtime to recharge.

In a healthy working environment, upper management doesn’t penalize you for a vacation or sick day. They encourage employees to establish a work-life balance. 

Here are a few ways managers can encourage downtime:

  • Promote breaks throughout the day

  • Allow for flexible scheduling

  • Protect off-the-clock hours as personal time

Why is it crucial to have a healthy work environment?

Positive workplaces benefit employees and employers alike. Here’s how:

  • For employees, healthy work environments improve physical and mental health. This leads to fewer sick days and higher energy levels to be productive.

  • Healthy work environments also increase job satisfaction among employees. Employees are more likely to enjoy their work and remain loyal to companies that prioritize their health and happiness.

  • For employers, a nurturing work environment increases productivity. Healthy, happy employees are more efficient and more likely to stay with your company. As a result, you can reduce turnover and the associated costs.

Companies with a reputation for their work environment attract high-quality candidates. Through personal recommendations and job review sites, top talent are more likely to be interested in your company.

6 tips for creating a healthy work environment

Here are six best practices to transform your workplace culture for the better.

1. Work within your budget

It takes time to create a healthy workplace. Invest in consistent efforts for the long haul — not short-term initiatives that fall apart when your budget runs out. 

For example, you may not be able to afford standing desks for your entire office. Instead, consider alternative options like offering a realistic stipend for each employee to set up a home office or take a wellness program.

2. Create a culture of feedback

Annual performance reviews are the norm, but they're too infrequent to be effective. So, complement your annual reviews with regular employee review sessions.

Frequent communication helps managers honor employee contributions. Instead of waiting a year to discuss their work, regular sessions give employees clarity on challenges and goals. 

When done correctly, employee reviews are a two-way street where managers listen and act on feedback with compassion. Make employees feel heard with active listening.

Feedback from coaching sessions and annual surveys should be discussed with other managers to create action plans that address any concerns that pop up.

Manager giving feedback to employee

3. Create a positive workplace culture

Recognition and appreciation go a long way in boosting productivity and morale. 

Encourage a culture where compliments are a normal part of the workday. From junior associates to executives, acknowledgments should be common. Promote genuine recognition of each other's work and the sharing of successful strategies.

4. Encourage autonomy

As long as they adhere to company policies and safety regulations, be flexible on how the work gets done. Allow employees to approach their tasks in their own way. 

Managers who insist on specific ways of doing things can stifle innovation and result in resentment. Trust your employees' expertise and avoid micromanaging – your remote employees can be more productive when they are trusted and independent.

Manager using magnifying glass to oversee employee

5. Manage workloads effectively

A healthy work-life balance reduces stress and makes your team more effective. You can make sure workloads are manageable by:

  • Setting realistic deadlines: Understand project details to avoid over-committing to clients and placing the burden on employees. Have honest communications between departments that work together to ensure work timelines align with the complexity of each task.

  • Creating efficient procedures: Set guidelines and schedules for routine tasks. This prevents constant interruptions and frequent overtime due to a deadline approaching.

  • Limiting multitasking and interruptions: Encourage employees to focus on one task at a time. This establishes a more efficient flow and reduces the likelihood of mistakes.

6. Create upward mobility

Offer plenty of growth and skill advancement opportunities to avoid dead-end job scenarios. For example, you can implement an employee development program with performance benchmarks.

Allow employees to move laterally, as well, so they don't feel stagnant. Your employees can also stay engaged through in-house training programs.

3 positive practices for fostering a healthy work environment in a remote setting

65% of remote employees are extremely satisfied with their work. In contrast, only 34% of office-based employees feel the same way. 

To improve your remote work environment, consider the below points.

1. Support a healthy remote environment

Remote employees are just as affected by their work environment as their office-based colleagues.

Provide your remote employees with a budget to set up a home office. You can offer resources like webinars on how to create a home office that's good for mental health.

2. Set clear boundaries

When working remotely, you need clear boundaries to sustain a healthy work environment. It’s easier to mix work with personal time when both take place in your living room. 

While supporting a flexible schedule if it benefits your team member, set clear boundaries so your team members can maintain a healthy lifestyle. Here are some ways you can support work-life balance:

  • No work emails or calls after hours

  • No working on the weekends

  • Create special forms of leave, like mental health days

  • Offer a remote mental health program

3. Host online water cooler meets

Remote employees also need the connection and camaraderie of in-person workplaces. Consider hosting casual virtual meetings so all of your remote and in-office employees can build a relationship.

Informal events should be optional, but offered to all team members. With remote team-building activities, employees get to know each other better outside of the work setting.

Remote employees having a virtual hang out

Prevent quiet quitting and boost employee productivity with a healthy work environment

From low productivity to constant employee turnover, a dysfunctional workplace is expensive. It’s also time-consuming for managers and HR professionals. 

On the other hand, a healthy work environment where employees feel empowered brings out the best in your team.

Remote HR Management keeps your employee data all in one place, so you can continuously work on building a healthy work environment.

To see how Remote can help you manage your global team, chat with us today.

Start hiring with Remote, the new standard in global HR

Create an account with G2's top-ranked multi-country payroll software and start onboarding your first employees in minutes.

Get started now
Remote is the G2 top-ranked multi-country payroll software

Subscribe to receive the latest
Remote blog posts and updates in your inbox.