How To Help Your Team Overcome WFH Burnout
Now a year into the pandemic and it feels as though the new normal is here to stay for a while yet — but where does that leave those under your stewardship suffering work from home burnout?
As a manager/leader you have a duty of care and need to keep an eye on the toll this past year has taken on your employees. Moreover, you also need to know when to step in and lend a helping hand, both to protect productivity levels in the business, and more importantly look after the wellbeing of your staff.
When working from home people are shouldering burdens they wouldn’t necessarily have to worry about in the office, not to mention process a pandemic at the same time. In this article we look at the following ways you, as a manager, can help your team overcome the stress and keep focused while working from home:
- Introducing more flexible working hours to lessen the burden
- Upgrading home office equipment to feel more comfortable
- Using online tools to make video meetings more engaging
- Reminding employers to be less self-critical
Are your employees feeling a little weary at this stage in the pandemic? Read on as we discuss how you can help your team overcome work from home burnout.
Introduce flexible working hours to ease the burden
Some people can thrive when working from home and have adapted to the situation quickly; others are juggling a million things at once and can’t concentrate as they could in the office.
As such, it’s important to accentuate the upsides of working from home and minimise the downsides. By this we mean you should embrace flexibility wherever you can so your team can work on more agreeable terms.
Whether members of your team are early birds, burn the midnight, or lie somewhere in the middle, if you want people to feel at their best, you shouldn’t force them to work their contracted hours on your schedule.
Every individual in your team is unique, with their own priorities and work from home pressures. By introducing a more flexible schedule you allow your team to find a groove that works for them, maximise potential, and make working from home less of a burden to people’s personal lives.
So with that in mind, it shouldn’t matter when your team starts and finishes work as long as there isn’t an important meeting to attend or a deadline to meet, particularly considering all the curve balls working from home has been known to throw at us.
Upgrade home office equipment to create a comfortable space
While for some it’s been a pleasure to work from home and stare out into the lush green garden, for many others this year has meant months of working from a tiny desk in their bedroom, flanked by magazines and wet laundry.
Such a makeshift setup cannot possibly match up to a more functional, highly optimised office space, which is far more reliable at keeping your team productive and motivated.
If you want to prevent work from home burnout out, you have to invest in people’s home setups just as you would back in the office — but what should be on your checklist?
Though you can likely make a trip to the office to source extra monitors and ergonomic chairs, here we’ve listed a few extra considerations managers often forget, but can help create a much more enjoyable work environment:
- Laptop stands/risers: like those listed at PCmag improve people’s working position
- LED desk lamp: brighten the workspace and make people feel more alert
- Bluetooth keyboard: provide more flexibility as seen in this Wired article
These unsung office gadgets help make your team more productive and organised, while also making people’s home office spaces feel comfortable and more like the real thing, which goes a long way to reduce feelings of work from home burnout.
Use online tools to make video meetings more engaging
Your business wouldn’t have been able to adapt to a remote setup without the use of communication software like Zoom and Slack — two online tools that have become synonymous with professional lockdown living.
From this, we know it’s important to keep the collaborative process working smoothly and maintain a certain level of face-to-face communication.
But with that said, your team is likely experiencing fatigue around using messenger apps and video conferencing software, which could be contributing to work from home burnout, given the tools strain on your eyes and restrictive nature.
Moreover, while Zoom and Slack go some way in reconnecting the team and filling the communication void, the process of typing out a message or seeing yourself speak feels unnatural and can be a real source of frustration.
As time goes on, you should start looking at adopting new online tools that are evolving out of lockdown and build on the foundation laid by Zoom and Slack. For example, here are some trending tools many companies are using to help make meetings engaging and more like the ones back in the office:
- Topia: a virtual space that allows you to walk seamlessly in and out of the conversation. Using Topia you can create a more natural atmosphere while still being online, which helps generate discussion and gamifies the experience.
- Trello: an online project board that helps your team keep track of tasks and monitor progress in a more rewarding way. Using Trello you can access projects through the cloud and boost collaboration by breaking down projects into manageable tasks.
By taking advantage of these ever-evolving online tools you can bring back a more natural and spontaneous feel to your standard remote working toolbox, while also bringing more clarity and a sense of direction to the tasks at hand.
Remind employees to be less self-critical
Last, but not least, you should be regularly reminding your team to be kinder to themselves and less self-critical when it comes to making mistakes or not quite meeting high expectations. After all, recognising that working from home can often be a challenge in itself is enough to be dealing with as things stand.
Although being self-critical is likely something we can all relate to and use to spur ourselves on at times, during this past year being too hard on ourselves has proven to be counterproductive, and when partnered with other pressures causes a very real sense of work from home burnout.
As a manager, it’s important to recognise we all make mistakes, especially under the weight of a looming pandemic. So, take the time to remind the team (and yourself) not to overthink the blips we experience at work and show your trust in people’s ability to produce quality work. What matters most is everyone is working and giving things their best shot during difficult times.
After a year in lockdown, work from home burnout is a real and presents risk to your team. It’s important you alleviate some of the pressures (both personally and professionally) so employees can continue to do their best work and enjoy life under your stewardship.
Whether you’re introducing flexible hours, upgrading home office equipment, transitioning to a more natural online tool, or simply reminding your team to be less hard on themselves — every manager/leader has a duty of care to prevent work from home burnout from affecting their staff.