Remote work is a dream come true for many employees and employers alike. Working from home gives employees the freedom to create schedules that allow them to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Employers also benefit by saving on utilities and rent as well as having a more productive workforce. A FlexJobs survey shows that people are more productive when working remotely. The respondents cited having fewer interruptions and being in a more relaxed environment as some of the top reasons for their increased productivity.
As a result, many employers are considering making remote work setups permanent, even after the pandemic ends. Meanwhile, others are thinking of adopting hybrid work.
If you too are planning to give your employees the option to work from home, make sure to account for the tools and equipment necessary for an effective remote work setup. You should also consider creating a strategy to help your employees prevent work from home burnout.
What is work from home burnout?
Work from home burnout is described as a feeling of overwhelming stress and exhaustion experienced by remote workers. The most common cause of work from home burnout is the inability to disconnect from work, which stems from the pressure that employees put on themselves to deliver above and beyond. A OnePoll survey revealed that 67% of remote workers feel compelled to be available all day, while another 65% are putting in more hours at work. Additionally, 60% of the respondents said they work overtime out of fear of putting their job at risk.
All this pressure puts a toll on employees’ mental health, leaving them drained and unable to function at work. They may also feel anxious, irritable, and/or demotivated. Some have trouble falling asleep or frequently wake up in the middle of the night. Others may even experience physical symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, and chest pain.
How do you prevent work from home burnout?
These tips will help your team stay healthy and engaged while working from home.
Set up a dedicated workspace. This will help employees separate their work from their personal lives. It will also allow them to block out distractions and put them in the right mindset for work, which will increase their efficiency and productivity.
Follow a defined yet flexible schedule. Establishing and sticking to a schedule is one way to give structure to an employee's days, making it easier for them to relax during their downtime.
Once their shift ends, they should stop whatever work-related tasks they are doing. It’s also a good idea for them to turn off email notifications on their computers and phones so they’re not tempted to check for messages when they’re off the clock.
You should also let remote workers know that it’s perfectly okay to adjust their schedules as needed. As long as they keep their productivity up and meet their deadlines, they can take an hour or two off during the workday to run personal errands. Also allow for asynchronous collaboration; identify which tasks can be accomplished without your employees having to interact in real time and let them do these based on their preferred work hours.
Having flexibility empowers your staff to strike a better balance between work and their personal lives.
Ask for help. Trying to do everything themselves may be causing your remote workers undue stress and fatigue. Assure them that it’s all right to ask you or their colleagues for some assistance if they’re overwhelmed with work. Some may be hesitant to do so, thinking that they’ll be seen as weak or unfit for the job, but you can show them that asking for help is not a bad thing by leading by example. Ask one of your employees to lend you a hand or delegate some of your tasks, and reach out to team members who seem to be struggling with their workloads. This also demonstrates the importance of teamwork in an organization, especially in terms of achieving efficiency.
Practice self-care. Encourage your employees to take one or two breaks during the day to grab a healthy snack or a cup of coffee. If they start feeling sluggish in the middle of the day, suggest a power nap. Power napping has been shown to quickly replenish energy and improve cognitive function, thereby enhancing one’s performance and efficiency at work.
It’s also a good idea to motivate your employees to adopt a healthy lifestyle. Making even small lifestyle changes, such as getting more exercise and eating at least one healthy meal per day, can help reduce stress and prevent mental health issues like depression and anxiety. To promote healthy habits among your remote workers, consider setting up an employee wellness program; offer gym reimbursements, telemedicine services, and health education/literacy resources, as well as rewards and incentives for employees who meet healthy lifestyle goals.
Foster team camaraderie. The lack of face-to-face interactions in remote work environments makes it difficult for employees to build and maintain friendships with their coworkers. Not only does this lead to poor communication and collaboration, but it also leaves remote workers feeling isolated, disengaged, and unmotivated.
Cultivate strong relationships among your distributed workforce by holding team-building activities regularly. For example, you can have a catch-up session with the entire team or host a virtual game night once a month. You can also encourage managers to check in on each of their team members every week or so, just to see how everyone’s doing. By building camaraderie and showing genuine interest in your employees’ well-being, you can help alleviate negative feelings that contribute to burnout.
Awareness of work from home burnout and how it can be prevented is the first step to ensuring your remote workers’ health and well-being. For more tips like these as well as information on how IT can help your business overcome the challenges of remote work, call us at 407-602-6873 or download a FREE copy of our eBook.