As the coronavirus 'lockdown' remains in place, many companies are facing the reality of having to extend remote work to protect their employees from COVID-19 for perhaps longer than they expected to.
Remote work is a valuable tool as companies try to minimize disruptions and keep operations running as close to normal as possible. However, when people who aren’t used to telecommuting transition from working in the office to working from home, they may cling to habits and norms that don’t translate to working remotely and that can lead to burnout, which is just what they – and your company – does not need right now.
The burnout risk
As a leader, it’s up to you to support employees and your company culture by creating the conditions for remote work success.
Here are a few ways you can help employees transition to working remotely while avoiding damaging burnout (and these are tips you should be following yourself too!)
1. Embrace flexible scheduling
You may have already noticed that some team members are more productive in the morning, while others get more done after lunch.
This is especially true when working remotely. In fact, many people are most productive outside the standard 9-to-5 workday hours.
As your organization continues to rely on remote work, give your employees the opportunity to adjust their work schedule with their most productive hours. This is especially important during the COVID-19 crisis, as schools are closed, keeping children home during the day.
Employees will appreciate you trusting them to manage their time and workload effectively. They’ll also enjoy the peace of mind of knowing that they can balance both their work and home demands.
2. Suggest employees designate a workspace
If your employees are used to going to an office every day, staying at home for hours on end will undoubtedly feel a little strange.
To help, suggest that they designate a dedicated workspace, whether that be a home office they already have or the dining room table. Having a space to go to, even if it’s in their house, will help them compartmentalize “work” vs. “home.”
3. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day
Working from home has many perks for employees. One is that they could, in theory, work in their pajamas.
However, when people can roll out of bed and immediately turn on their computers, some of them will feel pressure to do so. The lines between "work" and "home" can quickly become blurred.
Encourage employees to set boundaries on when they start and end their days. This transition is already an adjustment; make it clear you don’t expect them to “clock in” at the crack of dawn or stay online 24/7.
4. Help employees prioritize their wellness
Working from home will naturally make some employees go stir crazy. Understandably, overall anxiety is also currently at a high for many people. Throw in the fact that offices naturally encourage a certain amount of walking (such as to lunch, meetings and coworkers' desks) and you can see how the current shift to remote work could negatively impact employee health and wellness.
Way to encourage employees to make time for their health:Simply taking a walk can help employees feel healthier and happier.
You might also suggest they build time into their schedules for a fitness class or workout during their day.
Helping employees prioritize their own health and wellness will make them feel better, stay healthier and be able to keep going during the crisis, and in turn help keep your company going too.