Most companies are now managing remote teams and as a compassionate employer, you may be wondering what measures you can employ to reduce your employee's chances of experiencing work burnout. If truth be told, at this point, it does not matter anymore whether you are the employer or the employee. Work burnout is a prevalent issue that needs to be discussed as comprehensively as possible, and it can certainly happen to any remote worker.

This is the new normal for businesses and in spite of its many disadvantages, we have to accept that this is now how we do business. Rivermate recommends 10 tips so you can stay stay on top of your game and avoid work burnout.

Consider these 10 ways to help you avoid work burnout:

1. How about a routine?

If you are used to a certain routine before starting work, continue to embrace that routine even as you immerse in the work-from-home culture. If listening to lively music while answering emails upbeats your day, then just continue to do that. It will help you jumpstart your day and stay productive for the rest of your workday. In case you do not have any of these routines, you may follow what fits your liking that brings about a sense of normalcy to your day.

2. Stick to your normal working hours.

There are 24 hours in a day but that does not necessarily mean that you need to spend more than half a day working. Stick to your normal working hours so you do not find yourself working the whole day. The work-from-home setup can be tempting to stay in front of your laptop hour after hour so make it a goal to resist this temptation. Also, give a heads-up to your co-workers about what times you will be online and what your work parameters are.

3. Assign and design your working area.

Are you working from your bed? Are you all over the house – kitchen table, living room, or garage? Then, it is about time that you assign your working area to give you a space for work and set it apart from your sleeping quarters or eating areas. No matter how virtual workspaces are now, you still have to get settled in your own workspace that you use every day. 

Claiming a space as your own will help you stay away from distractions around the house. Your other family members at home will also understand and will not disturb you while you are ‘at work’. Lastly, it will be clear for you where your boundaries of work and home life are.

4. Learn new tools to increase productivity.

There are new apps that you might want to check out to get you through remote work such as project management and communication tools Asana, Slack, and Trello. Instead of just using the usual work emails, these tools help you and everyone in your team increase productivity and stay connected at the same time. You can check out our article about the best tools for remote teams so you can choose the most suitable tools for your team.  

5. Connect with your team.

Even in forced homestays and remote work, it is necessary that we reconnect with our team even at least once a week through a conference call or video call. This does not only remind everyone about productivity and progress reports but also strengthens the support network. Each team member can also check on each other and ask how every one is coping with work and see who needs assistance. Although virtual, you will find it somehow energizing to feel human interaction from time to time.

6. Adjust to new office dynamics.

The lack of face-to-face interaction and communications may also be a source of work burnout. It will be beneficial to the team if you sit down and try to meet the priorities, objectives, and targets of the different projects all of you are working on. This way, you can manage expectations and be able to deliver whatever goals you may plan to achieve. Additionally, it reduces reduces the amount of backlog that could potentially stress you out in the next weeks.

7. Turn off notifications.

There is no hard-fast rule to be online all the time just because you are working from home. Your boss and your colleagues understand that you do not work the whole day and you also have your own life to attend to. This means that you should manage your notifications after working. You may feel anxious for every alert that you hear from your messaging apps and email. But the truth is, there is no need to check on your devices every minute to see if you have a new message. Just check them during your work hours!

8. Choose and maintain both physical and mental exercise.

Take care of your mental health by just taking short breaks at work. You can also delve into meditation sessions to be able to recharge.  There are free online webinars about mental health and wellness topics that you can explore.

You can also schedule stretching or online desk yoga breaks at work. Sitting in front of the computer can strain your eyes, neck, and back. Stay away from your bed as it may distract you from working thus delay your tasks and will eventually prolong your time at work.

9. Encourage vacation or time off.

Taking time off and away from work has been proven to improve long-term productivity in employees. In between work and home life, one might feel pressured. Working from home may also be too stressful for some working parents in your workforce. Most parents are also in between helping out their children’s online schooling. In each of these cases, you could consider taking a break from work and booking a flight to a city that houses a tranquil and serene beach, or schedule a climb if your family is capable of doing so!

10. Be kind to yourself.

Think of a better work-life balance. The better you are in your personal life, the better employee you will be. Take short breaks in your week. You can look into your interests or new hobbies that can uplift your well-being. Through these little activities in your timeline, you will see that you have a better attitude to everyday life and you might find you are looking forward to work.

What You Need to Know About Work Burnout

Work burnout is chronic fatigue or stress while at work. It may cause both physical and mental health problems for the employees. This also means that it can hurt your business through expensive healthcare, on top of poor employee productivity and fast employee turnover. 

According to the Harvard Business Review, work burnout costs the U. S. economy more than $500 billion. Another World Health Organization study shows that the global workforce burnout costs estimated to $1 billion. This WHO study also shows that some who are most susceptible to burnout can eventually lead to having serious mental health problems and some may even commit suicide. 

A remote employee’s work burnout may be caused by a lack of communication with the superior or team, unreasonable time pressure, overwhelming workload, and unclear work description or roles. Harvard Business Review also surmised that burnout is about the workplace and company. It is not about the employee only. Businesses now should be amped up their remote employee engagement and give ample support to their remote employees to avoid this. 

But what are the tell-tale symptoms of work burnout especially for remote workers? Let’s look at these signs so you can tell if you or your other teammates are suffering from any or most of these:

  • Being in a work-from-home setup may drive some employees to go above and beyond. Some feel guilty and may feel they are not enough because they are working from home.
  • An employee might be neglecting their own needs like regular meals or sleeping.
  • Some of your employees are holed up at work and do not engage in interests outside of work.
  • Employees may also withdraw from family, colleagues, and friends.
  • Changes in behavior such as becoming more irritable or have swinging moods that may be brought about by work stress, depression, and anxiety.

Most of these work burnout symptoms discussed may not be noticeable right away. Some may deny that they are overworking or won’t be able to recognize they are already experiencing work burnout. As a manager of remote teams, devise a way to communicate personally with each of your employees and check on their situation and how you can help them too.

More About Coping with Remote Work

Reality: There is always work to be done.

Another reality: You can never finish everything.

As remote workers working from home, you have to take into account these realities and that, there is no one to tell you to stop working and you need to go home because the office is closing. You have to decide when to stop and not let work overcome your life.

Most businesses now are hiring remote workers because of its many advantages. With these benefits, challenges also abound. A challenge for those managing remote teams or your teammates is to realize if you or anyone in the company are exhibiting work burnout symptoms. Some employees might also feel overwhelmed about the shift to the new work-from-home culture that all are adapting to now. You have to do some self-checking and assessment so you will not go down that road. 

Remember that work burnout is real and you will never win this battle even if you fight it. Above are just some ways to help best avoid work burnout before it even occurs to you.  You are your greatest challenge and you have to be conscious of how you can stay on top of your game. 

Managing time efficiently is also one of the common denominators in doing remote work efficiently. But what if you have more time in your hands since you are working from home? Then it would be best to focus on quality over quantity.

Remote work is giving employees the best setup at this time of isolation and forced homestays. Take advantage of this opportunity to better your skills and work attitude. Learn new things and be open to new experiences that can help you and your work. Again, you are a better worker if you think and feel better. 

Talk to us at Rivermate about how we can help you and your business with hiring remote employees and global payroll.