Working from home guidance has been reinforced with current lockdown restrictions and for many, a clear boundary between work and home life will be increasingly difficult to maintain. This can lead to a real feeling of burnout - battling between a lifestyle balance and feeling the need to prove you’re doing enough. With this in mind, here are a few ways you can combat this unique form of burnout.
1. Trust in your team will go a long way
The traditional working hours are now no longer ‘normal’, with many of us now juggling responsibilities from home that we didn’t ordinarily have during the working day. Many will find themselves working longer hours, fuelled by the feeling of needing to prove that all work is being done. During the working week, thousands of us are defined by the set 9-5 day, taking lunch at the same time each day and having a physical presence in front of colleagues. At home, we don’t have this way of ‘proving’ ourselves externally, which can lead to a sense of insecurity.
Here’s where placing trust in your team plays a vital part. Team leaders can do this by being flexible and less formal, keeping meetubgs streamlined and avoiding typical lunch hours or times early in the morning where some may be taking advantage of the new hours. Setting attainable and broad deadlines with a lot of notice will allow flexibility and give enough time to be met – simultaneously acknowledging that turnaround times may be slower at the moment.
2. Keep communication open and the culture strong
Maintaining clear and open communication is a vital part of this strategy, especially when managing fatigue.
The current situation can understandably lead to a feeling of isolation from the team and the company. While many won’t have a choice but to work from home, team leaders could encourage the use of instant messaging like Slack and Google Chat. While daily huddles and weekly catch-ups with a line manager/mentor using a mixture of video and voice calls help to keep updated and on top of targets, with managers offering direction and guidance.
Keeping this constant open door to communication can replicate that feeling of being in the office where teams can so easily communicate and celebrate wins with each other, but it’s worth being mindful of other colleagues who may not want an ‘always on’ approach and acknowledging that this is okay as well.
3. Reiterate the purpose for every member of the team
Working from home every day can lead to questioning the purpose of work. With limited physical interaction, reward and an office to go to it can be difficult to remember the reason behind why we work. It’s vital that every member of the team is aware of what they’re doing and why they’re doing it, aside from simply logging the hours and getting through the day. Senior management, team leaders and line managers must be communicating this from the top down through the likes company-wide communication, keeping teams updated on business progress, any wins, challenges and opportunities.
It’s important that this messaging moves down through the hierarchy with each level of the team being aware of how their work contributes to the overall goal of the company - reiterating just how important every person is to the success of the business. No role in a team is obsolete and everyone contributes to the success of the overall goal. Defining this purpose is vital now more than ever.
4. Be clear on expectations and what is most important
If issuing work to members of your team, be absolutely clear of the deadlines and what is most important. Not only is this a clear way of setting expectations, but for some of the team with little experience in the industry, the office and being around peers plays a huge part in development and progression.
If managing more inexperienced members of the team, ensure workloads are managed and priorities are explicit, offer a steer wherever you can and avoid micromanagement.
5. Movement is important and can bond teams – even virtually
We all understand the benefits of movement and exercise on the body and mind. With lockdowns, many will be spending more time at their screens with no need to leave the house, finishing work when it’s dark and getting little daylight. Whereas heading out to get lunch is the norm when in an office setting. With longer nights, we must get the most out of the short amount of daylight we have. But how do you ensure your team isn’t neglecting their own need for fresh air and vitamin D?
By using instant messaging, a social chat can be an escape for many employees to talk about everything that isn’t work and can be a nice break when at the screen. Encouraging a weekly thread where the team can share photos of their week and something they’ve done can encourage people to do more other than stay in the house. Apps like Strava that track exercise can also be a great team building activity that encourages movement.
Creating a leaderboard for the amount of miles each person logs in exercise outside should encourage competition amongst the team. It doesn’t have to be strenuous exercise either, so whether they’re walking or in a wheelchair, riding or running, it encourages the team to get outside and spend time away from the screen.