9 Ideas for preventing remote worker burnout

Chad Prinsloo | Web Designer

Tiaan Dwyer  |  HR Specialist

August 20 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed businesses to make a rapid switch from face-to-face workplaces to remote work environments.

While working from home does have advantages, it’s not all positive. Some employees are experiencing burnout and fatigue as the lines between home and work life are now blurred.

Studies suggest working remotely can have psychological challenges in both the short and long term. Household distractions and more time spent in front of a screen are becoming an issue for employees.
The question is how can you prevent worker burnout for your remote workers?

To help you protect your workers and create a happier, healthier virtual workplace, we’ve compiled a list of nine ways you can support your team from anywhere.

1. Offer flexible working hours

In a traditional workplace, your employees are in the office from 08:00am to 17:00pm. They have regular breaks, a dedicated place to work, and a team to bounce ideas off. When working remotely, the dynamic can be much different.

Your workers may have children learning remotely, shared spaces, and background noise. They’re juggling home and work commitments, and sitting at a computer all day that may not be sustainable.

One way the employer can reduce worker burnout is by offering flexible working hours. Do this by offering alternative shifts such as night shifts and weekends or split shifts such as half morning and half evening.

Another option is for employees to log tasks completed rather than hours. This type of flexibility requires trust in your team, but it can result in a more productive virtual workplace.

2. Keep in touch with employees

Be the type of manager that your employees can come to if they have an issue. Working remotely can feel isolating, and knowing they have support from management can make a difference.

Remember, your employees can no longer talk to you and other team members freely throughout the day. Without good communication, minor problems or misunderstandings can quickly escalate.

One way you can combat this is by checking in regularly. It could be a virtual cup of coffee to see how they are doing or a quick morning progress meeting. When you stay in touch with your team, it can boost morale and prevent job dissatisfaction.

Make it clear to your team that your “virtual” door is always open. They don’t have to wait until a set time to ask questions or raise concerns.

3. Make use of automation tools

You can reduce the workload for your remote employees by automating business processes. Cloud-based solutions are ideal for collaboration, and the right software will have all the tools you need to make the day run smoothly.

This can be a win-win for both the company and employees. Repetitive tasks like notifications and updates can be automatic, while teams can check progress in real-time. If you automate business processes, you will save time and money, and your employees can bypass mundane tasks and focus on more fulfilling work.

The automation software should be user-friendly and ready to use out of the box.

Additionally, share free resources and guides to ease their workday, especially if it’s for a task they’re new to. For instance, sending your sales team email templates for scheduling client meetings will save them time from worrying about what to say and stay focused instead.

4. Reduce online meetings

Video conferences have become the norm for remote workforces. While there will be times when the team needs to get together and discuss work, consider reducing the frequency or length of your meetings.

In a world where employees are spending hours in front of a screen, unnecessary virtual meetings can add to computer fatigue.

Consider whether the meeting is essential or whether you can communicate the content with a simple email. Plan your meetings for the start of the day and keep them short and sweet. When it comes to video conferencing, always choose quality over quantity.

Skipping a few meetings will also help to prevent worker burnout.

Consider using a private online chat channel for your team in case they need to communicate quickly during the workday.

5. Give your team a break

Another way you can support your remote workforce and show them you value their work is by giving them a break. Depending on the workplace, your employees may be entitled to paid leave or unpaid leave by request.

Managing leave and employee benefits can be overwhelming when you have a remote workforce.

These companies can schedule paid time off for your employees and make sure the payroll is processed correctly.

6. Create a positive team culture

There are opportunities for after-work drinks, birthday celebrations, and employees training days in a normal office. Just because you’re working online doesn’t mean these events can’t still happen virtually.

Creating a positive team culture in a remote environment is possible, but you’ll need to think out of the box.

A good webinar tool can be beneficial. It can be a central space for hosting live events that all of your employees can attend without leaving their home office. Use it for celebrations, team-building exercises, and motivational speakers.

Plus, you can create employees training sessions and give them pre-recorded feedback.

7. Cheer them up with a gift

Your employees are working from home and without a change of scenery. That means the days can feel repetitive.

How can you give your team a quick pick-me-up and put a smile on their faces? Do something unexpected.

A small gift to break up the day can be enough to make them feel valued. For example, you could order them a surprise hot lunch to be delivered from a local restaurant. Or you could send them a voucher for a nearby Woolworths.

Why not get them out of their PJs and make them feel like part of the team with a custom t-shirt? Feature the company logo, and they’ll be proud to wear their new shirt to your virtual conferences.

8. Give them extra technology

The internet has given us a range of tech tools to support our health and wellbeing, so why not take advantage of them?

Your employees may not be able to go to the gym or participate in their weekly sporting activities. This can have a negative impact on both their mental and physical health. A lack of motivation can also lead to disengagement at work.

Consider investing in health and wellness apps and offering them to your team for free. For example, you could give them access to an online exercise program, mental health support, or a relaxation app.

Some work-from-home employees will have extra time on their hands, and they may be interested in upskilling with online training.

No matter what tech extras you offer your team, make sure they’re optional and your employees don’t feel pressured to participate.

9. Make sure you know the warning signs of worker burnout

Even though you’re not physically face-to-face with your employees, there are still burnout warning signs you can look out for.

If a previously reliable employees member is taking more time off and failing to manage their workload, they may be feeling fatigued. They may look tired or worn out during virtual meetings, and they may not participate as they usually would.

You may also notice your employee is having difficulty in the team environment. Do they seem emotional or difficult to work with?

If an employee is behaving out of character, then it’s a good idea to check in with them and see what kind of support they may need.

Preventing worker burnout with a remote workforce

If you’re managing a remote workforce, you may be wondering how to support your team and reduce the risk of burnout.

The good news is there are a few steps you can take to look after your employees and keep the business running smoothly. Flexible workplaces, good communication, and automation tools are all ideas worth implementing.

Consider reducing the length of your meetings and giving your employees some screen-free time. Cheer them up with a surprise gift, or use webinar tools to host events and provide them with optional health and wellbeing subscriptions.

Don’t forget to look out for signs of burnout, as often a break could be all they need to get back on track.

Happy employees are productive employees, and good leaders know this is the secret to business success.

If there is something I want you to know about me right away, it’s that I have a passion for supporting business owners. I believe in the future of South Africa and that there are so many opportunities out there to be successful and to make a change to our economy.

I want to be part of that change by providing businesses with core HR and Labour Solutions that will not only result in legislative compliance but actually positively impact their bottom line.

Over the years I have gained practical HR experience working in various sectors such as mining, construction, financial services, and corporate legal. As a business owner myself, I can relate well to businesses and what their needs are.

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