5 Tips on How to Handle Employees' Remote Work Fatigue
Remote work is rising thanks to advanced technologies like video conferencing, cloud storage, and more robust digital hardware. As a result, many companies are switching to either part or full-time to the remote workspace to promote efficiency and cut costs.
But there are two sides to each coin. While remote work gives staff time back in their personal lives by cutting commute time and increasing workday flexibility, it can also increase fatigue.
Handling employees’ remote work fatigue effectively requires adopting a holistic approach that includes offering flexible schedules, enforcing clear off-hours to prevent burnout, and encouraging regular breaks. Additionally, providing resources to combat stress, such as meditation classes and rethinking the necessity of frequent meetings, can significantly alleviate fatigue and enhance productivity.
Here are five tips to support remote workers and cut down on fatigue in the virtual workplace.
1) Rethink Meetings
With an in-person office, you can walk down the hall and poke your head into someone’s office. However, virtual settings lack that accessible communication. It’s why many employers view hosting regular virtual meetings as essential to efficient communication. But sometimes, this can be to the employee’s detriment.
Looking at a screen all day is exhausting for the eyes and mind. While there is no way around video conferencing in a virtual workplace, there are ways that you can make the experience less draining for your staff.
Consider hosting some of your meetings without a video requirement. It allows staff to focus on the topics at hand instead of how they look on camera or the cleanliness of their home office space.
Before scheduling a meeting, stop and ask yourself, “Do I need an entire meeting for this?” If the answer is no, start an email chain or schedule a phone call instead. There are less time-consuming ways to communicate ideas and work on projects than structured meetings.
When meetings are necessary, provide an itinerary ahead of time so that workers know what to expect. It allows attendees to prepare specific questions, presentations, and thoughts beforehand and maximize the time that you have together on a video call.
It’s also a great idea to designate a specific timeframe for the meeting. If you say that you will begin at 9 am and end by 11 am, stick to it. A set timeframe allows workers to schedule their work-from-home days effectively. Ensure all tech issues are worked out before the meeting to prevent wasted time while on the call.
2) Allow Schedule Flexibility
There are more distractions when working from home than in an office. It is unavoidable for most remote workers, especially those with children, pets, or partners.
Instead of fighting against those real-life distractions, allow workers to divvy up their time on and off the clock. Flexibility makes work more conducive to their lives.
Within reason, employers should consider allowing their remote teams to set their schedules. One great way to do this is by establishing a core set of on-the-clock hours for everyone to follow.
During this time, say between 11 am and 3 pm, everyone will be expected to work. This period is a great time to coordinate with colleagues, work on team projects, and host meetings.
Outside of that block of time, employees have the freedom to work when they choose, as long as they manage their time effectively.
This flexibility allows those with children to coordinate school drop-offs and other parenting responsibilities. It also gives people the freedom to engage in other fulfilling activities outside of work. For example, if a staff member is a part of a local choir or sports team, they can craft their schedules to allow time for those activities.
With this flexible model, employers give workers more power over their free time. It can prevent burnout and reduce fatigue.
3) Enforce “Off” Hours
Research has shown that the work-from-home trend has led to people working more. Employees are putting in more hours than they used to, sometimes off the clock.
The reason has to do with the blurring lines between being at work and home. Overworking puts employees on the fast track to fatigue, burnout, and job dissatisfaction.
To prevent this from happening, consider establishing “off” hours. These are designated periods when workers are not allowed to work. On weekdays, it could be from the evening until morning. On weekends, it could be the whole weekend or any time outside 12 pm to 9 am.
Enforcing off-hours means no checking emails or making work phone calls. As an employer, you could even lock access to specific platforms during off-hours. It can hold people accountable to the policy and make sure workers prioritize their personal time.
4) Encourage Taking Breaks
Taking breaks throughout the day is essential for fighting fatigue, but breaks can fall to the wayside when working from home.
Break reduction could be because people are in their personal spaces, stuck in the middle ground between working and relaxing. They may be wearing comfy clothing instead of their typical professional attire and have easy access to their kitchen for snacks throughout the day.
But stepping away from your computer screen to grab a cup of coffee is not a real break. Encourage your remote workers to take real breaks, shutting down their devices and intentionally shifting their attention to something other than work.
Empower staff members to take walks around their neighborhood or stretch throughout the day. Even small amounts of low-intensity physical activity have proven to minimize fatigue.
Workers will return from their breaks feeling invigorated and ready to tackle the rest of the workday.
5) Provide Fatigue-Fighting Resources
A significant component of fatigue is stress. As an employer, consider how you can help your workers minimize stress in their life at home.
You could provide online meditation or yoga class memberships to staff or send out occasional “treat yourself” gift cards in place of in-office breakroom snacks and coffee. These small gestures can go a long way.
Studies show that what employees miss the most about being in the office for work are the people. A sense of connection between peers can help minimize the monotony and isolation remote workers experience.
Consider hosting virtual socials or activities for your staff. You could host virtual games, like trivia and bingo, for prizes or organize a Zoom-in movie night.
Many positive attributes of remote work culture have inspired companies across the globe to make a permanent switch to a full or hybrid work-from-home model. As part of this transition, ensure your company adequately cares for your employees through supportive policies and an emphasis on work-life balance.
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