By Steve Cox
Working remotely has been a key talking point this year. The transition from traditional office spaces to makeshift desks at home has been met equally with productivity and anxiety.
As an employer, tight social measures and regulations means that office spaces are operating minimally, bound to compliance and worries about health and safety. For many, these home offices are spaces of work and home-schooling, which has accelerated cases of employee burnout during the global pandemic.
Many companies have tried, not always successfully, to mitigate the risks of remote working, as barriers to productivity can change an efficient workforce into a struggling one. This has resulted in a range of valuable wisdoms about remote working and the various ways to navigate employee burnout.
Five ways you can help avoid employee burnout
Set up company off-time
By creating ‘off-time’ or a blackout, allowing employees quiet time without disturbances ensures that people won’t receive bothersome notifications when they’re either focussing, or not supposed to be working.
This sets healthy boundaries in place and removes the expectation of working unusual hours, which can often result in burnout. Quiet time is about mindfulness and allowing employees to thoughtfully anticipate their day or unwind after a busy one.
Make some calls voice only
Where applicable, set certain phone calls to be voice only, or via mobile phone. As studies have revealed, ‘Zoom fatigue’ has become a worsening trend amongst employees. Instead many are encouraged to schedule certain meetings as audio only, which will make your schedule feel more flexible.
Phone calls are also found to be more relaxing for employees, where the stress of video calling can be bothersome if remote workers live in busy households, such as those balancing work with home-tutoring.
Schedule flexible working hours
Along with company blackouts, or curfews on communication, during unreasonable or resting hours, allow employees to work more flexibility within their schedules.
As long employee attendance and punctuality is still favourable for a business, then flexible scheduling can work more intuitively for a busy operation.
Some companies may choose to staggered working hours in the morning or evening, whereas others enjoy complete flexible. Using a time tracking tool can be really helpful here, not necessarily for micromanaging, but rather to ensure that tasks and projects are tracked, progressing, and accurate. This is also useful for client billing.
Create a company policy for mental health days
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), anxiety and depressive disorders cost more than a trillion dollars globally in lost productivity each year.
Having a company policy that favours mental wellbeing by offering employees mental health days will help the workforce unwind, destress and relax. This helps mitigate costly burnout, or where productivity is troubled by the stress of a busy workflow.
These days-off permit employees to recharge and renew themselves ahead of a busy, productive working month. This could be time simple relaxation or with their families, allowing them to balance (and focus on) life priorities.
Don’t enforce out-of-work activities
After busy days on conference calls and organising through task-loads, employees may need private or quiet time to unwind. This is especially relevant for working parents, who prefer to keep evenings open family bonding.
Out-of-work activities can create awkward impositions on those with busy private schedules and can seemingly exclude certain employees who have commitment away from the office. This might be a busy parent, or a carer, or an employee who studies in their spare for career development.
The evenings can be essential for employees who need time to recharge ahead of another busy working day. Allowing employees time within a working week to destress is essential in navigating burnout. It can the difference between a productive employee and one who struggles.
Written by Steven Cox, Chief Evangelist at IRIS FMP, a leading global international payroll provider to SME organisations.