As businesses everywhere are now operating with a remote workforce, many are seeing an issue common enough in the office settling in with their at-home employees: burnout. Let’s examine this phenomenon and see what can be done to avoid it.
Spotting Burnout in Remote Employees
As you would imagine, burnout in the home is remarkably like burnout in the office. The big difference is that there is no longer an office to leave workplace stress behind in. Furthermore, many people can’t help but see the inherent hypocrisy of the situation. Many people have pushed for the capability to work remotely in the past, only to be rebuffed, so now being required to do so can be frustrating.
To be clear, these employees aren’t frustrated that they are still able to work, but some of the other impacts of this situation have caused no small amount of friction. For instance, many of the people who were furloughed because of recent events may have been paid as much as four times the amounts that those still working 40-hour weeks.
While there’s little that most business owners can do about this, it has caused some negative feelings. These feelings could easily bleed into the work that your staff is doing.
Another common factor that contributes to burnout is the loss of any separation between the responsibilities of work and of personal life. Your employees are still human beings, so the idea of not having any break between working from home and working on their home life can be frustrating. Without any downtime to spend recuperating and processing what has been accomplished, it can be hard to see these accomplishments. This is what makes our first tip so important:
Working remotely doesn’t mean that your work hours change, you should just be working in a different location. Therefore, you need to be vigilant about how long you are working. While it is admirable to want to put in the extra hours, it is ultimately better for your performance (and your business’ budget) to stick to the schedule you would normally keep and spend your personal time taking care of personal things.
Working from home also brings with it a new set of potential distractions to draw you away from your work. The people you live with can inadvertently cause a strain on your focus, as can any pets you may keep. Certain temptations are also present in the home that wouldn’t be found in the office, such as streaming services or social media. Establishing a space in your home that is dedicated to work can help you to focus better, especially by assisting you with our next tip.
We’ve established that the home has plenty of stimuli that can draw your attention away from your tasks and responsibilities. A dedicated workspace helps to minimize these distractions, which in turn allows you to be more productive and reduces your temptation to work longer hours, diminishing the feeling of working all the time.
Of course, the expectations that others have of us (or rather, that we think others have of us) can often contribute to the burned-out feelings that so many get. It is important that everyone on your team is able to keep the following in mind: while working from home isn’t the ideal situation for everyone, recent events made it the only feasible means of keeping the business open and operational. A little bit of stress now can help lead to a better future, with a job at a business that wasn’t forced to shut down.
Who knows? Maybe, once all this is over, the option to work remotely will be more available. Perhaps going to the office won’t seem so bad.
Regardless, working at home can still become a bit of a drag, mainly because there are so few options otherwise right now. To help hold off burnout, a few small rituals may help, like:
- Dressing for success: One way to preserve some sense of normalcy is to treat your workdays as you would if nothing had changed. Get out of your pajamas and into something a little more “business” than “casual.” Doing so can help you get ready for the day, with the time saved on your commute spent on other things that would distract you as you tried to work.
- Take care of yourself: The high stress and low activity levels of recent months haven’t been the best for what is considered a healthy lifestyle, but with more areas opening up and certain restrictions lifting, the opportunity to do so is returning. Take advantage of any free time to do something active and fun, and make sure that you are feeding your body appropriately. A healthier body contributes to better mental health, after all.
The unpleasant truth is that the situation we are all in isn’t going to be over until a vaccine is developed, at which time many companies will likely return to the business-as-usual status quo of the past. With any luck, however, some will be able to see the benefits that remote working options can deliver and continue to utilize them going forward.
What is your opinion of remote work? Have you expanded your use of it, and will you continue it into the future? Share your thoughts in the comments!