All workers can experience burnout when they go through an extended period of stress. This happens in all work environments, including Work From Home (WFH) environments.
Remote workers often experience burnout for many reasons. One primary reason is that they are typically more productive than their office counterparts. This productivity is wonderful for the company, but if not handled properly, it can backlash. Burned out employees suffer emotionally, physically, and mentally.
Why do remote workers experience burnout? By working from home, they no longer take the time to commute to work, take part in office chit-chat, or office lunches. Those office perks not only help build camaraderie, but they also provide boundaries and buffers in the workday, benefiting employees emotionally, physically, and mentally.
How Can You Prevent Burnout?
To prevent burnout, you need to take care of your emotional, physical, and mental well-being during and surrounding your work. You can do this by creating boundaries, prioritizing your work, and creating a routine.
Create Boundaries For Yourself
You will need to create many boundaries for yourself in order to prevent burnout, including physical boundaries, time boundaries, and technology boundaries.
You can work anywhere in your house, but you likely know which areas will be the least productive for your workflow. You don’t need a home office to set up physical boundaries for your workday. You just need a dedicated place where you work. If your kitchen table is too messy and your couch is too cozy, create a space somewhere that is quiet but not too relaxing.
Implement boundaries with this workspace. When you are working, only sit or stand in that specific area. When you are using your laptop or phone for personal uses, be sure to walk away from that designated space. This lets your brain and family or roommates know that you are walking away from work, even if you still need to use your devices.
Many people who WFH feel like they always need to be “on.” This sense of loyalty and urgency makes work hours bleed into every other hour of the day. That pressure, while usually self-induced out of guilt, is what causes burnout. To avoid this, set up time boundaries for yourself.
If your employer does not require you to work during certain hours, then create your own schedule around work meetings and other commitments. Use the flexibility of WFH to create the ideal schedule for yourself. If you can, work when you perform the best, whether that is in the morning, afternoon, or evening. Try time blocking to get started until you start to work in a consistent rhythm. Be aware that this schedule may change according to seasons of the year and seasons in your life. Embrace the flexibility when your current schedule no longer works for you by creating a new schedule.
Depending on your job, you may spend a lot of time using various technologies and devices. If you also like to use those devices outside of work, set up boundaries for your technology.
If you’re tempted to check your work email outside of work hours, turn off email notifications or remove your work email account from your mobile phone.
If you’re tempted to work long hours, set a timer for the start and end times of your workday. Listen to the timer.
If you have a boss or coworkers who expect to connect with you outside your working hours, clarify your schedule with them. Be firm about your availability and don’t change it unless absolutely necessary.
When you’re on a deadline, go offline as much as you can. Update your status to “Do Not Disturb” in your collaboration tool to inform your coworkers and boss that you’re working but busy. Put your phone on airplane mode. Don’t check your email. Take this time to focus on your project and remove all of the distractions you can.
Prioritize Your Work
While working remotely, it can be tempting to do all the work that shows your productivity versus doing the work that needs to be done first. This is often called “busy work.” These small tasks stack up and may look great as you check them off of your to-do list, but doing so can cause mounting pressure to complete larger projects on tight deadlines.
To avoid adding stress, prioritize your work at the beginning of the workday or at the end of the workday for the next day. Then only adjust that task list if urgent items arise. If non-urgent items arise, stick to the task list you created today and determine if those new items belong on your priority list tomorrow.
Create a Routine
It’s easy to get sidetracked and distracted when working from home. Family members or roommates may be home, dishes and laundry are piling up, and suddenly the carpet needs to be deep cleaned. This is why creating a routine for your WFH life is so important. It’s easy to ignore many housekeeping tasks at the office, but in this new environment, you need to create a new routine.
Your new routine can be exactly as it used to be, minus the commute, but it doesn’t have to be. Based on your schedule, take note of what distracts you while you’re working. If the dishes distract you, can you do them before work? Or can you work outside of the kitchen?
Whatever your situation is, take note of your distractions and create a routine to minimize them. This can mean working at different times to accommodate family members or roommates. It can also mean working in a different room.
Many WFH professionals have very specific morning, lunchtime, and evening routines that punctuate their days and provide a sense of timeliness, even if they never leave their home. We encourage you to develop the right routines that work for you and provide you with structure for your days.
One common routine many remote workers swear by is continuing to “get ready” in the morning. Working in pajamas can be fun at first, but after a while, you may find that taking the time to put on work clothes and fix your hair or mustache helps put you in the right frame of mind for work. Plus, it’s beneficial to maintain that routine for days you do visit an office or have in-person appointments.
Another common routine that WFH employees have is getting exercise. Whether you choose to work out or take a walk in the morning, at lunch, or in the afternoon, it’s healthy for your body and mind to move and get outside.
Working from home or from anywhere is a wonderful experience that has many benefits, but it’s important to be proactive with your health and the health of your team in order to prevent burnout.
To learn how Meet Me In The Cloud can help you connect and collaborate with your team, easing some of the stress of working from home, visit this link.
Work From Home (WFH) became standard for many employees during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the challenges of working from home combined with the challenges of a global pandemic have given remote work a bad reputation. Enter Work From Anywhere (WFA).
The Difference Between WFA and WFH
WFH may be seen by some as a form of confinement, but that was not the intention behind its development. It was intended to provide employees with freedom and flexibility, but it falls short for what many employees need and crave.
While the WFH movement began far before the COVID-19 pandemic swept the world, that reality is how many people view working from home. Unlike WFH during the coronavirus pandemic, when many states were locked down and remote work policies were created overnight, Work From Anywhere is about empowering employees to think and work in the ways where they are most productive. It’s about providing employees with flexibility so they can live and work in ways that benefit their physical and mental health, as well as their careers and families.
One big difference between WFH and WFA, although created with the same principle, is the difference in flexibility. WFH usually means just that – working from home and possibly working in the office. But WFA gives the opportunity for employees to work from home, the office, a coffee shop, a co-working space, on the road, another country, and more. WFA allows employees to keep working when they experience big life changes; this provides them with financial stability and support during those challenging times.
TechCrunch sums this up very well:
Many of us will choose to work from home, and many of us will habitually return to the same working environment each day even if it isn’t our home. That’s fine. Flexibility doesn’t mean constantly changing everything up – it means we can change things when we want and need to.
In this working paper, it shows that remote workers who are allowed more autonomy in their work perform better than employees who work in an office environment.
Not only is the flexible WFA environment critical to see increased productivity, but so is the autonomy. Companies can only see this benefit when implementing a WFA policy if they ensure leaders and managers give their direct reports room to breathe and work.
Increased Real Salary
When employees can work from anywhere, many choose to move to places that have lower costs of living. This increases their real salary without the company needing to pay them more.
Expanded Talent Pool
When companies implement WFA policies, they no longer need to hire based on location or proximity. You can then hire from around the entire globe without being concerned about moving expenses.
Improved Employee Retention
Many employees would accept a WFA job that pays a little less than an in-office job that pays more. After employees WFA, many of them will stay with your company because they prefer the flexibility.
WFA can also help senior employees extend their careers. This study found that senior employees who were offered WFA opportunities took advantage of them and moved to their retirement location, such as Florida, while continuing to work. These employees often provide such in-depth knowledge to companies, especially for newer employees, and being able to work with these senior employees for a longer period of time benefits companies long-term.
Consolidate Technology and Tools
When you transition to a WFA environment, you may realize that you have many technologies and tools that perform the same tasks. Consolidate them and then mandate the use of common tools for everyone. This will help ensure no messages or work gets lost in an old or insecure tool.
You will also want to determine your device policy. Do you purchase devices – including laptops, mobile phones, and VPNs – for your employees? Do you provide them with company tools? Or do you offer partial reimbursements for personal devices?
Implement In-Person Meet-Ups
If you have employees who work near one another geographically, then consider implementing in-person meet-ups. This is especially beneficial for those who do similar types of work. This small investment in time and money helps employees make connections and spurs learning.
Start with Trust
Trust must be at the core of all remote work or it will fail. This Inc. article says if remote work turns into distanced micromanaging, WFA may not see any benefits.
Before implementing a WFA policy, get feedback from employees. Ask employees if their managers micromanage them already. Ask managers how they will manage from afar. Then consider offering training for all employees to help everyone transition to the WFA environment.
If your company lacks trust between employees, it may be best to pause the WFA initiative.
Start with Independent, Experienced Employees
Employees who work fairly independently and know how to do their jobs well are more likely to excel in a WFA environment. This means that new employees who are learning on the job may not be ready to WFA.
It also means that not all roles are suited for WFA. Some jobs require a lot of collaboration that isn’t ideal for remote operations. Still, other jobs require specific equipment and technology that isn’t readily available or feasible for home use.
However, it is important to note that some companies that operate 100% remotely have all staff members who work remotely, whether they are new or experienced, so there must be more research on this topic.
In the end, be careful about who you allow to WFA. Some employees may need additional support than others, so you will also need to anticipate how you will support remote employees, especially if they are transitioning from an office environment.
Develop Cost Allocation Decisions
In addition to making technology decisions (and who is paying for what tools, devices, and software), you also need to decide what other items you will cover for WFA employees that you would typically cover in the office.
- Do you cover internet expenses? If yes, do you cover this even if some employees work in public areas, such as coffee shops and libraries?
- Do you reimburse employees for coffee and snacks, whether they make it at home or purchase them at coffee shops and stores?
- Do you cover co-working expenses? If so, how do you reimburse those who opt not to use co-working spaces?
Concentrate on Outcomes
Typically in an office environment, employees focus on how many hours they work. They clock in and they clock out. In-between those times, they work. In WFA environments, the focus switches from getting hours into achieving certain outcomes.
This is hard for many leaders and managers. This principle goes back to trusting your employees. Managers are tempted to monitor their remote teams, but this often does more harm than good. Instead, managers and leaders should focus on how employees are pursuing and achieving outcomes. This means ensuring employees maintain quality work and fulfill deadlines, not that they promptly reply to emails and Slack messages.
According to this Forbes article, WFA calls for greater trust, not more surveillance. The article goes on to say “it’s far better to establish clearly defined outcomes and then trust people to achieve those objectives in whatever ways they deem best.”
Are employees more productive when they can work from anywhere? Yes! Just as employees are more productive when they work from home versus the office, they are even more productive when they can work from anywhere, whether that’s from home, the office, or somewhere else.
If you’re transitioning to a WFA environment, we can help you migrate your people and technology onto a unified suite of collaboration services. Learn more about our professional migration services at this link.
Many companies have implemented remote work policies for a variety of reasons. In crisis mode, this happens by necessity. In typical situations, there are many reasons companies adopt remote working policies. Seeking desired business outcomes is another reason to enable remote work for your employees and company.
Common benefits of remote work that are discussed typically focus on the employees’ benefits, but businesses of all sizes can improve a variety of business outcomes by utilizing remote work, too.
Remote Work: Our New Reality
Remote work has been a growing trend for many years, but the COVID-19 pandemic sped up the process for many companies. According to the CNBC All America Survey, “42 percent of U.S. workers who did not telecommute previously are doing so now [during the pandemic].”
This work-from-home (WFH) initiative has allowed many Americans to perform their job duties entirely from home, which has helped businesses continue to run, adapting to the situation. It has also helped protect our public health.
However, some employees and business leaders have felt the stress and strain of the WFH movement. But this is to be expected during a unique, global pandemic. The majority of the stress is caused by the coronavirus itself, its health implications, and the worries it has added to everyone’s daily lives. The fault does not lie with the adoption of remote work. Yet, there are many ways to best adopt remote work into your organization that will help lessen the strain on your workforce, though these options were largely overlooked as companies quickly adopted WFH policies practically overnight (and understandably so in the situation).
Looking forward to after the coronavirus pandemic, remote work will still be our new reality. Employees will want to continue working from home, even if only part-time. For this reason, it’s important for business leaders to continue refining their WFH policies for the future. When you adopt the option to work remotely, you will see many benefits in your team and business.
The Business Outcomes of Remote Work
There are many positive business outcomes of remote work, including increased employee engagement, increased employee performance, reduced real estate costs, reduced absenteeism, improve acquisition rates, and improved employee retention.
Increased Employee Engagement
Having a flexible job increases the engagement of employees, especially in terms of remote work.
According to Gallup, “Engagement is not an exercise in making employees feel happy – it’s a strategy for better business outcomes.”
Their research found that companies that experience the highest amount of employee engagement spent 60 percent to 80 percent of their time working remotely. This equals three to four days in a five-day workweek. This may be because people typically enjoy in-person interactions, including at work.
Increased Employee Performance
When employees are engaged, they perform better. So, with increased engagement, you will naturally see increased performance.
Gallup research proves that engaged employees before better. In fact, their research states that “Highly engaged workplaces can claim 41 percent lower absenteeism, 40 percent fewer quality defects, and 21 percent higher profitability.”
According to Business News Daily, remote employees tend to work more hours than in-office employees.
“Remote employees work an additional 1.4 more days per month than in-office employees, which is nearly 17 additional workdays a year.”
Remote employees work an additional 10 minutes per day and spend less time, on average, being unproductive when working. They also say they are less distracted by their boss while working. In fact, 15 percent of remote workers say their boss distracts them while 22 percent of office employees say the same thing.
Reduced Real Estate Costs
According to Global Workplace Analytics, companies whose employees work 100 percent remotely save an average of $10,000 per employee per year on real estate costs alone.
Businesses that employ a part-time remote work policy still save money on real estate costs. Many companies implement WFH policies when they run out of space in their current building. This way, employees rotate their on-site days, sharing desks, pausing (or stopping) the need to expand to a larger building or office space.
Other businesses encourage employees to use co-working spaces. This saves companies money on real estate while offering their employees an in-office atmosphere in their local community.
Remote work can also curtail absenteeism. This has been noticeable during the COVID-19 pandemic. Employees who are able to work remotely can complete job duties while quarantining.
If employees do get sick, they can choose to get some work done because they are able to work safely from home without infecting co-workers.
According to HubSpot, employee absenteeism often happens when employees are burnt out. But with flexibility and a WFH policy in place that guides employees on remote working best practices, employees are more likely to take time off when they need it and continue to work otherwise.
Improved Acquisition Rates
According to Gallup, “54 percent of workers say they’d change jobs for the choice to work remotely or not.”
This makes companies that offer remote work policies very desirable for job hunters, which is especially important for many businesses to consider during and after the coronavirus pandemic.
Improved Employee Retention
The opportunity for remote work can also improve employee retention rates for the same reasons. More employees want to stay at a company that is flexible.
According to the 2019 Future of Work survey by Crain’s New York Business, which surveyed company managers, “78 percent of the respondents listed ‘flexible schedules and telecommuting’ as their most effective non-monetary ways to increase employee retention.”
According to the Workplace Survey Results by Staples, which surveyed office workers and business decision-makers in the U.S. and Canada, “90 percent of employees say that flexibility in their work arrangements contributes to their morale.”
While the term “flexibility” varies from person to person, remote work is seen as one of the top ways companies can offer flexibility to their employees.
Are You Ready To Adopt A Remote Work Policy?
Working remotely has a few challenges, but its benefits far outweigh the drawbacks. The best way to have a workforce that effectively works remotely is to adopt communications tools that connect employees. This helps your workforce feel like a team and work as a team.
Are you ready to adopt a WFH policy? Learn about our Adoption Services.
When you want to adopt remote work in your organization, you must also follow four best practices during the process to ensure successful adoption. When you follow these best practices, you will see many positive business outcomes.
Some businesses have failed at implementing these best practices into their remote work initiative, which causes them to eventually give up on remote work altogether, leaving its many benefits behind and potentially some disgruntled employees as well.
With prior planning and careful consideration, you will be able to start and utilize a functional remote work initiative that will greatly benefit your organization. Here’s how:
Adopt The Right Technology
A remote workforce is heavily dependent on technology to communicate. And communication is at the center of most businesses. Without the right technology, employees can become lost and unengaged because of a lack of communication.
Relying on email and phone calls alone is an outdated approach for distanced teams. Now, video conferencing software, collaboration platforms, and cloud services are vital for a remote team to be successful.
Not only is adopting the right technology important to your success, but so is a quick, successful adoption of those technologies by your workforce. If adoption is slow and time-consuming, employees can feel stranded and confused, unable to make work progress. But when adoption is quick and efficient, employees are involved and engaged. That’s why we offer Adoption Acceleration services.
With remote work, there is an increased need to improve security measures for your company’s data. Many work-from-home (WFH) policies allow employees to use personal devices for work, which means that your company’s cybersecurity needs are changing. In fact, even if you don’t technically allow employees to use personal devices for work, they likely are anyway, especially on mobile devices.
Every device is a potential entry point for hackers. As such, every device can be a weak point in your cybersecurity efforts and your cybersecurity posture is only as strong as your weakest endpoint. Your employees’ personal anti-virus protection or other cybersecurity efforts are no longer enough. Instead, they need enterprise solutions to protect your data.
In order to meet these increased cybersecurity demands, we recommend working with a cybersecurity Managed Service Provider (MSP) in order to receive guidance on how to best protect your company’s data. This is why we partner with CyberFort Advisors, an MSP, to bring you customized cybersecurity solutions.
Update Your Company Culture to Accommodate Remote Work
When your workforce works remotely, they still need a company culture to align their work. This helps them work on behalf of the company’s mission. It’s about teamwork, collaboration, and trust.
When you adopt remote work, you will need to change or add to your current company culture. It may involve new technologies and yearly retreats, but it has to include connections. When employees connect with one another, they are able to build trust with one another over time. This trust enables them to feel more at ease in their work because they know they can count on their teammates, even if they don’t see them every day.
Part of building trust is transparency. Even if you don’t see your employees, you still need to be transparent with them, which means communicating openly with them. A remote team should communicate just as much, if not more, than an in-office team.
Another important part of a remote work culture is being goal-oriented. Similar to an in-office setting, employees need to know expectations and goals, so make them clear and communicate them often. This helps develop a culture of growth and motivation, which is important for having an engaged, productive workforce.
Each company has a different culture, so your remote work culture will vary based on your organization’s mission, goals, and other factors. Involve your team in a discussion about how they want the company culture to adapt as it goes remote. Ask them what kind of support they will need before adopting the remote work opportunity and after. That will kick-off the connection and further build trust with them, which will start impacting your company culture right away.
Implement New Remote Work Policies
To make remote work actionable for your workforce, you will need to create WFH policies. These policies will establish the dos and don’ts of working from home and working remotely in general. It’s important to establish boundaries and best practices in these new policies to guide your workforce to productivity. Without these policies, you may come across problems that are avoidable, such as employees feeling overwhelmed or not completing tasks in a timely manner.
Common remote work policies include the following details:
- Who is eligible to WFH
- The process for requesting WFH privileges
- Regular working hours, if you want to establish them
- Expected online hours, if necessary
- Timekeeping process and recommendations
- Attendance and availability expectations
- How different technology will be used (tip: avoid duplicate uses)
- What expenses you will cover
When you create a WFH policy, you will likely want every employee to sign an agreement stating they agree to the terms within the policy. This helps ensure employees understand the policy before they work remotely.
Are You Ready to Make Remote Work Functional at Your Organization?
Most businesses considering remote work are going through extensive changes, which can be challenging for employees to adopt. To help you support your workforce during big changes, we offer Change Management services.