The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed businesses to make a rapid switch from face-to-face workplaces to remote work environments.
While working from home does have advantages, it’s not all positive. Some employees are experiencing burnout and fatigue as the lines between home and work life are now blurred.
Studies suggest working or studying remotely can have psychological challenges in both the short and long term. StuDocu conducted a survey which stated that over 56% of U.S. students said that they have difficulty staying focused in fully online classes.
With household distractions and more time spent in front of a screen, this is an issue not only for students but for employees, too.
The question is, how can you prevent employee burnout for your remote workers?
To help you protect your workers and create a happier, healthier virtual workplace, we’ve compiled a list of nine ways you can support your team from anywhere.
1. Be flexible
In a traditional workplace, your employees are in the office from nine to five. They have regular breaks, a dedicated place to work, and a team to bounce ideas off. When working remotely, the dynamic can be much different.
Your workers may have children learning remotely, shared spaces, and background noise. They’re juggling home and work commitments, and sitting at a computer all day may not be sustainable.
One way you can reduce worker burnout is by being flexible. Do this by offering alternative shifts such as night shifts and weekends or split shifts such as half morning and half evening.
Another option is for employees to log tasks completed rather than hours. This type of flexibility requires trust in your team, but it can result in a more productive virtual workplace.
2. Keep in contact
Be the type of boss that your employees can come to if they have an issue. Working remotely can feel isolating, and knowing they have support from management can make a difference.
Remember, your staff can no longer talk to you and other team members freely throughout the day. Without good communication, minor problems or misunderstandings can quickly escalate.
One way you can combat this is by checking in regularly. It could be a virtual cup of coffee to see how they are doing or a quick morning progress meeting. When you stay in touch with your team, it can boost morale and prevent job dissatisfaction.
Make it clear to your team that your “virtual” door is always open. They don’t have to wait until a set time to ask questions or raise concerns.
3. Use automation tools
You can reduce the workload for your remote employees by automating business processes. Cloud-based solutions are ideal for collaboration, and the right software will have all the tools you need to make the day run smoothly.
This can be a win-win for both the company and staff. Repetitive tasks like notifications and updates can be automatic, while teams can check progress in real-time. If you automate business processes, you will save time and money, and your employees can bypass mundane tasks and focus on more fulfilling work.
The automation software should be user-friendly and ready to use out of the box. For example, one tool that does this really well is frevvo. As a bonus, it gives manager’s the benefit of built-in charts and reporting.
Additionally, share free resources and guides to ease their workday, especially if it’s for a task they’re new to. For instance, sending your sales team email templates for scheduling client meetings will save them time from worrying about what to say and stay focused instead.
4. Go easy on the meetings
Video conferences have become the norm for remote workforces. While there will be times when the team needs to get together and discuss work, consider reducing the frequency or length of your meetings.
In a world where employees are spending hours in front of a screen, unnecessary virtual meetings can add to computer fatigue.
Consider whether the meeting is essential or whether you can communicate the content with a simple email. Plan your meetings for the start of the day and keep them short and sweet. When it comes to video conferencing, always choose quality over quantity.
Skipping a few meetings will also help to prevent burnout.
Consider using a private online chat channel for your team in case they need to communicate quickly during the workday.
5. Give them a break
Another way you can support your remote workforce and show them you value their work is by giving them a break. Depending on the workplace, your staff may be entitled to paid leave or unpaid leave by request.
Managing leave and employee benefits can be overwhelming when you have a remote workforce. Some companies find using a professional employer organization (PEO) beneficial for managing HR tasks.
These companies can schedule paid time off for your employees and make sure the payroll is processed correctly.
6. Create a positive team culture
There are opportunities for after-work drinks, birthday celebrations, and staff training days in a normal office. Just because you’re working online doesn’t mean these events can’t still happen virtually.
Creating a positive team culture in a remote environment is possible, but you’ll need to think out of the box.
A good webinar tool can be beneficial. It can be a central space for hosting live events that all of your employees can attend without leaving their home office. Use it for celebrations, team-building exercises, and motivational speakers.
Plus, you can create staff training sessions and give them prerecorded feedback.
Alternatively, you can invest time to share interesting podcasts for team building discussions. There are over 150,000 active podcasts today, so surely every team member can find something that intrigues them.
7. Cheer them up with loot
Your employees are working from home and without a change of scenery. That means the days can feel repetitive.
How can you give your team a quick pick-me-up and put a smile on their faces? Do something unexpected.
A small gift to break up the day can be enough to make them feel valued. For example, you could order them a surprise hot lunch to be delivered from a local restaurant. Or you could send them a voucher for a nearby department store.
Why not get them out of their PJs and make them feel like part of the team with a custom t-shirt? Feature the company logo on a flattering tee, and they’ll be proud to wear their new swag to your virtual conferences.
8. Give them little tech extras
The internet has given us a range of tech tools to support our health and wellbeing, so why not take advantage of them?
Your employees may not be able to go to the gym or participate in their weekly sporting activities. This can have a negative impact on both their mental and physical health. A lack of motivation can also lead to disengagement at work.
Consider investing in health and wellness apps and offering them to your team for free. For example, you could give them access to an online exercise program, mental health support, virtual yoga classes, or a relaxation app.
Some work-from-home employees will have extra time on their hands, and they may be interested in upskilling with online training.
No matter what tech extras you offer your team, make sure they’re optional and your employees don’t feel pressured to participate.
9. Know the warning signs of burnout
Even though you’re not physically face-to-face with your employees, there are still burnout warning signs you can look out for.
If a previously reliable staff member is taking more time off and failing to manage their workload, they may be feeling fatigued. They may look tired or worn out during virtual meetings, and they may not participate as they usually would.
You may also notice your employee is having difficulty in the team environment. Do they seem emotional or difficult to work with?
If an employee is behaving out of character, then it’s a good idea to check in with them and see what kind of support they may need.
Preventing employee burnout with a remote workforce
If you’re managing a remote workforce, you may be wondering how to support your team and reduce the risk of burnout.
The good news is there are a few steps you can take to look after your employees and keep the business running smoothly. Flexible workplaces, good communication, and automation tools are all ideas worth implementing.
Consider reducing the length of your meetings and giving your employees some screen-free time. Cheer them up with a surprise gift, or use webinar tools to host events and provide them with optional health and wellbeing subscriptions.
Don’t forget to look out for signs of burnout, as often a break could be all they need to get back on track.
Happy employees are productive employees, and good leaders know this is the secret to business success.