3 Ways to Curb Remote Burnout


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It’s a common misconception that working remotely is easier and more laid back than going into the office. By cutting out commute times, face-to-face interaction and other daily workplace stressors, companies thought that switching to remote work would be a breeze. They quickly learned, however, that remote work is not at all an easy option.

From transitioning to all online interactions to navigating the complexities of virtual relationships, the challenges of the past couple of years have caused many professionals to feel stressed, overworked and burned out. Employee burnout leads to decreased productivity and dissatisfaction, spelling harm for the company in the long run.

Fortunately, HR professionals can combat this issue in many ways before it takes root. Let’s discuss.

Accept remote work as the new normal

Most working professionals are ready to put the events of 2020 behind them and jump back into business as usual. However, business as usual is going to look much different than it did 12 months ago. Some observers predict that remote work is not going anywhere, with a significant portion of employees expected to remain remote long-term. While they may be fighting burnout, the added flexibility is expected to entice many to keep working remotely.

A recent study conducted by the professional networking site, Blind, found that in 2020-2021, when many employees were working from home, 73% of working professionals felt burned-out. 20.5% blamed an unmanageable workload as the catalyst. Stressors also include no work-life separation, a lack of control over their work-life and insufficient support from leadership. No matter how you look at it, creating a healthy remote culture is going to be a priority for any HR professional who wants to keep their teams working at a high caliber.

Prioritize social connection outside the office

A lack of communication can be a major contributor to workplace burnout. Teams depend on frequent interaction to create meaningful relationships, which traditionally come from spending time together at the office.

It’s easy to assume that remote work offers too much interaction with employees constantly hopping on calls or popping up in one another’s emails. However, the teams with connections outside the workplace feel more comfortable asking for help in the workplace. Building out time for co-workers to engage with one another outside work hours allows them to form those human connections and stave off feelings of isolation.

The remote work boom has highlighted some great tools that can be used to create these opportunities. Use video apps such as Zoom to schedule coffee chats, virtual happy hours or even online game nights for your team. Or implement continuing education programs, such as seminars or mentor programs, to encourage interaction and provide ways for team members to challenge themselves outside traditional office hours.

Prioritizing employee interaction is a great way for employees to build a healthy company culture while also showing their employees that they care.

Encourage employees to set boundaries

The idea of a nonexistent commute time might sound great, but in reality, working from home can create a ton of tension for professionals who feel that they can never truly “step away” from their job. While working from the kitchen table is convenient, it also creates unnecessary stress while you’re eating dinner and trying to finish that project at the same time.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the average workday has lengthened by around 48 minutes. Even though a 20-minute commute from the office was annoying, it provided a necessary time to switch gears from professional to personal.

Successful HR teams understand this and can communicate the importance of setting work-life boundaries to beat burnout. Be adamant that employees have quality time for themselves that’s not interrupted by emails, phone calls or unfinished projects. Stay transparent about what is expected of teams and consider giving them the power to create their own schedules instead of trying to maintain a rigid 9-to-5 workday.

While the past year has been tricky to navigate for all, HR professionals have learned a lot from the transition to remote work and now have the tools needed to reduce burnout and continue developing happy and healthy teams.

Brian Anders
Brian Anders joined WorkSmart Systems in 2019 as director of human resources and has extensive experience in all aspects of HR within the service industry. His HR acumen includes employee relations, organizational training and development, project and talent management, payroll and recruitment. Brian is a graduate of Indiana University, and is SHRM-CP Certified with National SHRM and the Indiana State SHRM Chapter membership.


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