WFH Burnout: A Few Ways To Engage Your Team While Working Remotely

Jun 18, 2021
WFH Burnout: A Few Ways To Engage Your Team While Working Remotely
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Working remotely makes some things easier, but it isn’t perfect as a full-time approach. Notably, the employee experience still has a risk of burnout: in fact, research suggests (per Indeed) that most people think it’s worsened during the pandemic. Any team member who reaches that point will struggle to get by, and their team will lose productivity.

Due to this, the home office needs just as much HR work as its classic predecessor — or even more. Part of your job as a team manager is to prevent WFH burnout, but there’s a lot to consider. The structure and schedule of your workday, the solitude of working from home and related mental health concerns, the increased influence of remote employees’ personal lives… Juggling these concerns is the path to avoiding burnout in your remote workforce.

In this post, we’re going to cover some straightforward tips for how you can effectively engage a team of remote employees, helping to steer them away from employee burnout. If you can make good use of them in the long term, it’ll greatly strengthen your business. Let’s get started.

Encourage workers to change their surroundings

When you’re in a regular office, the necessary level of activity means that the immediate environment changes somewhat frequently (and the working environment really matters). Workers move post-it notes around, rearrange their desks, alter the lighting… They don’t radically shake things up, but they keep them slightly fresh. Most vitally, the commutes ensure that going to work truly feels like going somewhere. 

But when you’re in a home office, it can be the same every day. Despite having the power to tweak it however you like, you might not have the will — and with no commute to keep things interesting, you can start to feel trapped. This is why you should encourage your remote employees to change their surroundings on occasion. It’s key to employee engagement.

You could make it a competition of sorts: who can come up with the most interesting home office arrangement? Alternatively, you could draw inspiration from the featured image and prompt people to take their work laptops outside. A mobile data dongle can easily provide enough speed for this. It isn’t an all-day option, of course, but just an hour or two working outside can leave someone feeling significantly refreshed.

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Make the most of suitable communication tools

You may be feeling tired of Zoom at this point, but that doesn’t mean you can’t squeeze more from it. Instead of just holding boring meetings, why not run some social events? You could create some quizzes for people to enjoy, or even some video-gaming contests. Or maybe you could stick with a simple gathering: take an hour or so in the middle of a workday and gather everyone together to talk about whatever comes up.

Keep in mind that Zoom isn’t the only VoIP tool on the market, and others can do some interesting things. Topia, for instance, allows spatial video chat: in other words, participants can move in and out of conversations much as they would in real-world exchanges, elevating employee engagement. Additional features like this can do much to freshen online discussions.

Now, communication tools will never entirely make up for the loss of in-person meetings, so you should still arrange face-to-face meetings whenever possible. Even if you can only get your remote employees together a few times each year, the time spent in physical proximity will do more to support collaboration than anything you can achieve at a distance.

Offer simple suggestions for better work/life balance

Even though remote working has made some parts of work/life balance easier (less time spent commuting means more free time, for instance), it’s made other parts harder. Most notably, clocking in and out isn’t as straightforward as it was. There used to be a clear delineation: your workday begins when you reach the office, and it ends when you leave. Now things are blurry.

Working from home means that you can reach the end of your hours but remain at your workstation with little impetus to go elsewhere. You can unthinkingly work on a project for hours that you’re not getting paid for, then find that you’re feeling unusually weary. Part of this is due to the common fear of being insufficiently productive while working from home: something that can hugely detract from employee engagement even as it keeps people stuck at their desks.

As the team manager, some of the onus is on you to ensure that your remote employees aren’t working too hard. If people are struggling to handle their time effectively, address them not as the boss but as someone else trying to make the best of a tough time. Tell them about how you manage your schedule, and make relevant suggestions (including any time-management tips you can muster). They’ll appreciate the guidance.

Place more emphasis on personal development

The lack of colleague interaction makes remote-working days feel longer yet ultimately seem to have gone by faster. Each day is a grind, then you notice that several months have passed. It’s disconcerting and can make you wonder what you’re actually achieving. It bears noting that burnout isn’t always the result of too much stress, anxiety, or responsibility. Sometimes it can result from a fundamental loss of motivation — so what can motivate people?

Rewards are great, but you need something grander. This is where personal development comes in. Just having a stable job is enough to inspire gratitude, but not enough to really keep someone interested. By listening to what your team members want to achieve and coming up with plans to help them grow, you can solidify their loyalty through employee engagement that makes the average workday feel more meaningful through building up to something bigger.

And remember that a personal development plan doesn’t have to explicitly bring value to the business to be worthwhile. Suppose that one of your workers wants to start running marathons, for instance. It won’t generate any revenue for you, but it will make them healthier and more content, and those things will enhance their productivity. Make your remote employees happy and it’ll always work out well for your company.


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About Author: This article is written by a marketing team member at HR Cloud. HR Cloud is a leading provider of proven HR solutions, including recruiting, onboarding, employee communications & engagement, and rewards & recognition. Our user-friendly software increases employee productivity, delivers time and cost savings, and minimizes compliance risk.


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