How To Prevent Burnout Within Your Remote Team
While the 2020 pandemic scare has subsided, remote work models remain “trending permanent.” It gives employees flexibility while letting employers save on overhead costs.
However, the remote work model has its downsides.
Due to the lack of face-to-face interactions, they are more susceptible to isolation, causing a lack of motivation and reduced productivity. Reports also note that 85.65% of remote employees experience exhaustion, much higher than hybrid and in-office workers.
To overcome these challenges, companies must take active measures to prevent burnout in remote teams.
In today’s article, we share the root causes of burnout in remote teams and show ways to minimize it for better business outcomes.
Understanding Burnout in Remote Teams
Burnout refers to complete mental, physical, and emotional exhaustion. A burnt-out individual often struggles to engage in activities they usually enjoy. It causes an overwhelming sense of hopelessness and reduces productivity to a minimum.
The consequences of burnout in remote teams can be drastic for companies. Here are some to be mindful of:
Remote work entails a certain level of autonomy over daily responsibilities, which can overwhelm an exhausted employee.
Burnout causes swift disengagement and starts a ripple effect, reducing collective morale.
An exhausted employee can’t complete their end of the responsibilities well, hampering the entire workflow.
Severe and prolonged burnout can cause employee attrition and impact the company’s employer brand.
Identifying Burnout Signs
Early detection of burnout signs can help mitigate the impact. Some usual ones include:
Sudden disengagement can be an early symptom of burnout in remote teams. Has your once-engaged remote employee stopped asking questions? Have they started keeping their cameras off and are mostly silent during calls? They may be at risk of burnout.
Constant active status
If you see a constant green dot by an employee’s profile at all hours, it can indicate they struggle to disconnect from work. Such a lack of boundaries can quickly escalate to severe exhaustion and requires quick intervention.
For example, if you get emails from remote employees at odd hours, it’s time to evaluate their workload.
Decreased productivity and work quality
Reduced daily output or lack of quality in work is a notable sign of burnout. A remote employee not performing as well as they used to could be because they are overwhelmed or struggling to concentrate. A burnt-out employee can procrastinate tasks since they may lack energy for their responsibilities.
Lack of innovation
Is there an absence of creative ideas from a once-in-novative remote team? It may indicate that they don’t have the mental energy to brainstorm innovative solutions and are on the brink of burnout.
Another sign of burnout is stifled morale and emotional exhaustion. It often manifests in frustration, irritability, lack of patience, and a negative attitude towards the workday. It causes remote employees to struggle with teamwork and increases conflicts.
Frequent applications for sick days
An employee experiencing frequent burnout is likely to apply for more sick days. It may happen because they need holistic breaks to recuperate from the workload. It compromises synergy in remote teams.
Causes of Burnout in Remote Teams
To prevent burnout in remote teams, you must understand what’s causing it in the first place. By detecting its varying reasons, you can tailor solutions to individual challenges.
Here are some of the prevalent causes of burnout in remote teams:
One of the predominant downsides of working remotely is the lack of in-person interaction with coworkers. Humans are social animals and tend to thrive collectively.
However, in a remote work model, employees struggle to build the mutual camaraderie that comes with working in a physical office. This results in a lack of mutual support and isolation. Prolonged feelings of loneliness can cause stress and, in turn, burnout.
Work-life balance issues
While remote work gives greater flexibility, it can blur the lines between personal and professional lives. Colleagues aren’t around to remind you to take breaks, eat lunch, or wrap up your work for the day.
It can lead remote workers to work additional hours and take fewer breaks than in a physical office. Moreover, the urge to get more work done as a remote employee outside of work hours can start a vicious cycle of overwhelming workloads.
In remote settings, managers often start micromanaging employees to maintain productivity. It can build an excessive need to outperform others to prove their worth. Remote employees try to cover more responsibilities without checking their bandwidth and end up burnt out.
In many companies, remote work setups are not as streamlined as in office environments. Virtual teams often lack the right resources and wait for assistance from their on-site coworkers. It causes inefficiency, piles up work for remote teams, and causes exhaustion.
Communication barriers are a frequent cause of burnout in remote teams.
Reports note that 64% of employees find chat and email communication trickier than in-person interactions since it causes three misunderstandings a week on average. Virtual settings lack non-verbal cues like facial expressions, body language, tone of voice, and eye contact — some essential elements of effective communication.
Moreover, cultural and linguistic differences and a lack of real-time interactions between employees working from different locations make teamwork difficult, cause frustration, and result in burnout.
How To Prevent Burnout Within Your Remote Team
Now that you know why your virtual teams are more prone to burnout, it’s time to take proactive measures to overcome these hurdles. Try these strategies:
Promote Work-Life Balance
The first step here is to encourage remote employees to establish boundaries. Show them they don’t need to overwork to prove their worth. Assist them in deciding on a regular schedule aligned with individual productivity and energy levels—set notifications to remind them to sign off. One may opt for productivity tools to achieve effectiveness and the best output in business.
Encourage regular breaks and downtime. Assign sufficient time for lunch breaks. Some companies even allow short nap times to give employees a break on busy days. During these breaks, engaging in a quick online solitaire game can be a refreshing way to mentally reset before diving back into work.
Allow team members to adjust their work schedules to accommodate personal commitments. Finally, limit work-related communication within individual working hours.
A team can only be efficient with clear and transparent communication. It establishes mutual trust and fosters synergy.
Set guidelines and expectations early on to overcome the hurdles of virtual communication. Define each employee’s role clearly and explain their daily duties for better comprehension. Schedule regular check-ins and one-on-one meetings to maintain correspondence and monitor team members’ well-being. Use video calls for face-to-face interactions.
Invest in proper project management collaboration tools to ensure the whole team remains on the same page. It minimizes miscommunication and conflicts and gets work done faster.
Provide Support and Resources
You can’t eliminate work-related stress. However, you can help your virtual teams deal with it better with proper support and resources.
Provide access to mental health services, such as therapy sessions and employee assistance programs. These aid in performance and teamwork, finances, mental health issues, occupational and personal stress, and major life events.
Nurture an environment where seeking help is encouraged and not looked down upon. Create a safe space and let them know you will acknowledge all problems.
Set Realistic Expectations
Setting realistic expectations is a must to prevent burnout. Assess each virtual employee’s experience, expertise, and bandwidth and delegate responsibilities accordingly. Ensure an even distribution of workload so no one is consistently overwhelmed.
Set realistic deadlines to ensure timely completion and avoid work getting piled up. Keep a buffer zone to accommodate challenges. Finally, teach your teams how to prioritize tasks for better productivity.
Focus on Team Building and Social Interaction
To battle isolation, organize virtual team-building activities and casual social events. It lets remote teams connect with their in-office coworkers in a stressless environment. Here are some fun activities you can try:
Online yoga classes
Interactive games like two-truths and a lie
You can also create informal groups for each team and let them bond over shared interests.
Leadership’s Role in Preventing Burnout
Burnout prevention requires a cultural change, and that’s only possible when leaders lead by example. Managers and supervisors respecting individual boundaries and supporting employee wellness will set the tone for the company.
Assurance and support from the leadership instill confidence in virtual teams. It motivates them to do better while maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Managers recognizing and rewarding good work also improve morale and build a sense of belonging in virtual teams. They feel valuable, less isolated, and engaged in their responsibility.
So, check in with your employees regularly. Keep an eye on early signs of burnout and take prompt action to mitigate them.
With a practical strategy, reliable technology, and an employee-centric approach, you can prevent burnout and benefit from a remote work setting. Remember to:
Set realistic expectations and guidelines
Conduct team-building activities
Offer wellness programs and resources
Conduct regular 1:1 meetings
Encourage small breaks and downtimes
Finally, foster a diverse and inclusive environment where even remote teams feel at home. By building mutual trust and fraternity, your workforce will work as one and prevent burnout.