They say the future of work is remote. But due to the pandemic, many businesses had to transition their workforce to remote work immediately. Now, rarely do we see the traditional office setting, as seen in movies like The Intern, Office Space, and Horrible Bosses. It is only natural that some employees have difficulty getting used to their new work setup. Also, according to a survey, up to 69% of remote workers are experiencing pandemic-related burnout.
What Causes Remote Work Burnout?
In a traditional office setting, their major causes of stress include office distraction, lack of control, and extreme job demands. But when it comes to working from home, employees often feel stressed out due to unreasonable deadlines, overwhelming workloads, lack of support from their team and leaders, and unclear performance metrics. Add the fact that there are different kinds of distractions and temptations in their home, causing them to be unproductive and inefficient in their role.
What Happens When Remote Workers Are Burned Out?
Remote workers can end up missing deadlines, even if they are working more hours each day. They will feel unhappy and demotivated due to their failure to perform efficiently. Even their mental health can suffer, causing anxiety and depression.
Burned-out individuals sometimes feel desperate and useless. They may feel like they no longer belong to the company or do they deserve to stay in their position. You can end up losing your best talent, which means production can suffer, and your costs increase.
What Can Employers Do to Help Fight Remote Work Burnout?
It can be difficult to tell if your remote workers are feeling burned out, especially if their performance shows otherwise. But there are things you can do to help fight and manage pandemic-related burnout.
Recognize the Signs
First, your team leaders should learn the tell-tale signs that show a team member is now burned-out. One clear sign is reduced professional efficacy. They are consistently unable to keep up with task deadlines, are producing a lower quality of work, or if they are now making more mistakes than usual.
Other warning signs of a burned-out remote employee are as follows:
- They are no longer engaged.
- There is a clear change in attitude.
- They joke about feeling burned out.
- They are taking more or fewer sick days.
- They are often online and sends late-night emails.
- You hear them say they lack sleep or have headaches.
Offer Better Support
Now that you know a remote worker or two is burned out, it is time that you offer your support. Ask them what they think causes their stress. Let them know that they are not in trouble, but you will need them to work with you so you can help them overcome their current dilemma.
If they are having a hard time adjusting to their new workload, have their managers give them tips. Make sure you set clear expectations about their roles and their responsibilities and to provide clear metrics on how you track their performance. Ask how they feel about their new work setup and always take note of their feedback.
Sometimes, technical issues ruin the day of remote workers. In the office, you have a group of IT professionals they can easily rely on in case of a computer breakdown, virus attack, or that much-needed data retrieval. But for remote workers, they might need your support in getting them timely IT services so they won’t stress about their computers failing to work as intended.
Remind your remote workers to never take self-care for granted. Tell them to take healthy breaks during the day and to say no if they can no longer accommodate the extra workload. Also, encourage them to use their sick days to take mental health breaks.
Give Them More Control
Lack of control is one stress-trigger in traditional offices. This can also be a problem if your employees don’t have control over their work-life despite them working from home. If you’ve been breathing on their neck before they transitioned to remote work, know that such leadership style can negatively impact their remote performance.
Allow them to work during the hours they are most productive. This is as long as they can attend scheduled virtual meetings and are online during business hours. You can also treat them by reducing the number of meetings and relying on not-so-important information of reminders via chat and emails instead.
Don’t Forget to Appreciate Your Remote Workers
All of your employees deserve your appreciation. Don’t forget to thank them for their hard work. Recognize your top-performing remote employees. You can offer additional work incentives, a monthly bonus for hitting their target, or even a budget to spice up their home officers.
Burnout is a serious problem among remote workers. You don’t want any of your employees to experience remote work burnout, especially during the pandemic. Watch out for signs telling your employees are beginning to feel burned out. Allow them more control over their work and offer more support as need. Make sure you show your gratitude to them to continue to motivate them to a great job despite their sudden transition to remote work.