As we emerge from the pandemic, remote work is becoming more common, with 45% of full-time U.S. employees working from home either all or part of the time, according to a recent Gallup poll.
While 9 out of 10 employees prefer a home office, it does have potential drawbacks. One of the most common is burnout: a state of chronic fatigue, low energy, and lack of motivation that makes work feel harder than usual.
Of employees who exclusively work from home, 86% report feeling burned out.
There are several steps employers can take to prevent burnout in their remote employees. Implementing one or more of the following strategies will result in increased engagement and productivity.
Consider these 6 burnout prevention tips to ensure your employees remain healthy, productive, and engaged.
1. Encourage boundaries.
Today’s technology ensures we are all constantly connected. While this is beneficial for business, it is bad for burnout. Employers and managers should encourage their employees to unplug after hours including evenings, weekends, and while on paid time off. Although working extra hours to meet a deadline or complete a looming project may be necessary on occasion, it should not be the norm. If someone is online after hours, encourage them to stop working by sending an email or instant message reminding them to relax. They will feel valued and respected and will return the next morning energized to tackle the day. Consider 9-5 company time and 5-9 personal time as a fun way to create this type of culture.
2. Lead by example.
It is not enough to promote boundaries; you must also set them. If you’re the type of manager who sends late-night emails and works while on PTO, you’re setting a precedent for others to follow. People will feel less pressured if they know their boss uses vacation to relax and recharge. It also helps to build trust when employees realize they can rely on their coworkers to hold down the fort while they are away. If you just can’t relax until you’ve sent that email out at 8 PM, but an immediate response isn’t needed, consider sending it with delayed delivery so your team member(s) will receive it at the start of the next business day.
3. Don't micromanage.
Employees must be trusted and given adequate space to complete their tasks. Concentrate on the end result rather than the details. Set aside time for recurring one-on-one meetings to establish clear expectations, have coaching conversations, and assess progress toward goals. Giving people the freedom to complete their work will help them feel engaged rather than feel pressured to have their work reviewed at every stage.
4. Consider flex schedules.
Admittedly, this one can be tricky. Allowing employees to choose their schedules may be appropriate depending on the needs of your organization. Some people work best in the morning, while others have bursts of energy in the afternoon. Allow employees in roles that aren’t client-facing—and, therefore, don’t need to adhere to standard business hours—to work when and where they feel most productive. Some employers are concerned this will have a negative impact on results, but it can help to improve them. Employees who have the freedom to set their schedules, whether that means working flextime or compressed workweeks, feel valued and are more likely to go above and beyond to deliver results.
5. Limit video calls.
Let’s face it, feeling connected virtually is hard. Fortunately, video calls allow us to meet face-to-face in a virtual setting. The disadvantage is that being on camera can lead to serious burnout. It’s what I call “Zoom zapped,” or the numb feeling in your head that occurs after spending hours on camera. It’s draining. But there is a simple solution! Allow people to limit video meetings to no more than four hours per day, or have company-wide “no video” days so everyone can focus and get work done. Additionally, allow employees to turn off their video as long as the meeting is not client-facing and business requirements allow.
6. Paid time off.
rater8 provides its full-time employees with flexible time off, also known as unlimited PTO. Trusting your employees to take time off when needed promotes work-life balance and burnout recovery. If you provide a set number of vacation days per year, ensure that employees are taking advantage of them while keeping the needs of the business in mind.
Stop Burnout Before it Starts
Employees can reset and bring their best selves to work if you follow these burnout prevention tips and give them intentional time to rest. Because working from home makes it difficult for many people to distinguish between their personal and professional lives, employers should do their part to encourage their employees to take the time they need to tend to their personal needs and responsibilities. This will improve mental health, leading to increased productivity, preventing burnout, and promoting a work environment in which everyone wins.