More than one-third of U.S. employees telecommute at least part-time. That number represents a fourfold increase over the percentage reported two decades ago, according to a Gallup study. And many startups are doing away with office space all together to manage entirely virtual teams, making employees happier, more productive and more engaged.
But burnout when working remotely is real.
So whether your team telecommutes part-time or is 100-percent virtual, you'll need a strategy – an approach that maximizes efficiency, fosters long-term commitment and prevents burnout in your remote employees. You'll need to find a way to connect virtual employees to the organization and help them maintain a healthy work-life balance.
Most managers recognize the dangers of burnout in their onsite teams, but offsite employees can become overworked as well, which hampers their overall effectiveness. It pays to create conditions that are conducive to long-term employment and efficiency in your virtual team.
Here are three tips that can help reduce burnout in the workplace.
1. Help employees set healthy boundaries.
When there is no physical distinction between home and workspaces, it's important to draw bright lines between work life and home life. The employer's company culture plays a critical role here: As a manager, make sure you recognize employees as individuals with lives of their own, and clearly communicate your expectations to virtual staff.
To do this, you can …
- Provide employees with clear start times and end times so work doesn't consume their lives
- Make sure they know you don't expect them to routinely work nights and weekends
- Encourage them to turn off email notifications after hours
- Suggest that they leave their laptop in their home office and shut the door
- Encourage them to take breaks – including a lunch break – during the day, as well as to take a walk or rest in a room away from the home office
2. Take advantage of communication technologies to stay in touch.
Remote employees are at risk of feeling isolated since they don't interact with peers in traditional ways. This can lead to a pattern of overwork, where employees feel driven to compete with unseen coworkers. But modern communication technologies can help you build a strong virtual community.
Help employees stay engaged by creating frequent touchpoints, such as …
- Instant messaging
- Video platforms
- Web-based meetings
- Employee portals
- Phone conversations
- Company social media
These can provide a critical defense against isolation and help employees stay connected. If you manage a large virtual staff, it's a good idea to delegate one or two people to focus on keeping remote employees connected to the company – it's that important.
3. Make sure your company supports openness and clearly conveys that value.
It's impossible to overstate the importance of company values in shaping a healthy, productive workplace. Corporate values should foster trust and encourage candor, and all employees – whether onsite or remote – should adopt those values.
In this way, companies can avoid a lack of candor stemming from fear of discipline and other negative results associated with disconnected teams.
Encouraging and supporting self-care and work-life balance not only serves to reduce employee burnout but also demonstrates a culture of care. It’s reminding your employees to pour back into themselves a little each day – while you reinvest in them, too – so they can be the best version of themselves for your organization and in their personal lives, allowing them to stand steady, manage challenges, and remain adaptable.
For more on how to avoid remote employee burnout by modifying the way you lead, download 13 Ways To Build A High-Performing Remote Team – for free – today!