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12 tips for remote teams to enjoy holidays

12 Tips Remote Workers Beat Holiday Stress

Bah humbug, you may say. Like Ebenezer Scrooge or the Grinch. Particularly if you work from home on a flexible schedule as a remote worker or virtual team leader you may feel left out. You may experience negative emotions as you glance to your left and right, and there is no one in the cubicle next to you to cheer in the holiday and new year festivities.

Grinch staff can destroy more than the holidays

Like Ethan Grinch from the Dr. Seuss series, an orphan from parents with surnames ‘Who’? It can give freelancers, gig workers, staff and employees working from home an overwhelming sense of loneliness and isolation. For who are we? Specifically, if we define ourselves by a job where no one sees us in person, face-to-face, physically, in real time?

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If we are not careful, virtual workers may take on the personality traits of the Grinch. The Collegeboard even contains in the syllabus of its accredited Psychology class, a character study of the Grinch and determines he/she:

  • seeks to destroy and destruct, rather than create and give life
  • projects his negative emotions on to the innocent
  • expresses pessimism, anger and hostility instead of optimism, joy and love
  • experiences difficulty controlling impulses instead of practicing restraint

Why would we care about the Grinch? We are adults, right? Well, research demonstrates that negativity and other traits attributed to the Grinch and Ebenezer Scrooge can adversely impact business.

Negative employee attitudes are bad for business

Michigan State University researchers studied the effects of negativity on business.  The researchers published their study in the Journal of  Applied Psychology to reveal that staff who are pessimistic are more likely than their positively minded co-workers to lose mental stamina, become defensive and lower their work output. Not one business leader, entrepreneur wants this condition to be permanent and metastasize.

Remote staff, freelancers and workers working at home are not alone. Many experience the ‘holiday blues.’ Psychology Today,  reports upon many studies to suggest that the period of Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day,  people can be overwhelmed by symptoms related to anxiety and depression. Often associated with increased levels of stress.

We have covered exhaustively, literature reviews of research-based studies based upon interviews of approximately 4,500 workers to show that staff with flexible work schedules, hybrid, remote and tele-working arrangements experience:

  • greater job satisfaction
  • offers improved work-life balance

Remote teams may be more prone to negativity

Conversely, WFH advocates have come to recognize the drawbacks from remote work. Namely, it:

  • reduces the sense of connectedness to work colleagues and peers
  • lowers job security
  • reduces the perceived opportunities for career advancement

Another less researched topic, is the extra stress workers may experience during the holidays. For instance, Psychology Today, back in 2017 before the serge of the work from home movement due to Covid-19:

  • 56% of respondents participating in an American Psychological Association survey experienced the greatest amount of holiday stress while at work, while a smaller percentage
  • 29% of respondents reported experiencing the greatest amounts of stress during the holidays while at home

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Virtual staff and double whammy of holiday stress

What happens when your home is your workplace? Does that mean that an overwhelming 85% of potential respondents would indicate that during the holidays they attribute added stress to pressures, heightened demands of  work and home life?

The reasons why astute employers must take precautions in caring for their number #1 assets (workforce), are vast. Studies have shown, consistently, that employees are often stressed during the holidays:

  • time pressures (just a few more days before presents are opened, extended family arrives for a holiday feast)
  • lack of money to meet expectations during gift-giving rituals
  • pressures to buy, buy to keep economy going (consumerism and commercialism)
  • stress associated with re-connecting with estranged or troublesome family members giving rise to family conflict

Tips for managing stress of in office workers

In the more traditional in office, return to the office settings and campus work environments, employers have proactively instituted the following to relieve employee stress during the holidays:

  • communicate the availability of Employee Assistance Program Plans (EAP), and more specifically the ease at which employees may access the crisis intervention features
  • allow employees at least some time (on the clock) to meet personal obligations
  • encourage staff to volunteer time and gifts on behalf of the company to promote goodwill and to help the less fortunate
  • encourage employees to take time off, particularly if they are required to use time or loss time earned by the beginning of the new year

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12 tips to manage holiday stress of remote workers

So. we’ve discussed, at length, how employers managing in a traditional office might best help their employees beat the holiday blues.  How to manage the holiday stress of your remote workers, you may ask? What suggestions might we offer for remote first employers and virtual team leaders and those utilizing mixed location, hybrid and remote working arrangements?

  • Take online survey to find out how employees wish to celebrate
  • Schedule an optional online / virtual holiday retreat, packed with games, get to know you events and activities (employees with exemptions may refuse to participate)
  • Schedule an optional in person holiday gathering with invitations to employee families and significant others (employees with exemptions may refuse to participate)
  • Send online holiday cards with animated bells and whistles
  • Provide a holiday bonus, even if it is a few bucks (its the thought that counts)
  • Host a virtual awards show to distribute quirky gifts, certificates to all employees to acknowledge a job well done (no matter how small)
  • Remember to recognize (privately or publicly) staff who have lost a loved one or who is experiencing a serious health condition
  • Start a virtual chat / forum or chain email where all staff write about for what they are most thankful
  • Showcase a picture gallery (in private mode) of employee pets in festive outfits
  • Send a presentation (ppt, podcast, mp4) of the ways in which the company has helped its community and customers
  • Respect the wishes of employees who refrain from participating in holiday activities
  • Show gratitude to everyone (we’re only human, right?)



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