How to Prevent Burnout in a Remote, Pandemic Workforce

Last Updated: 

April 19, 2023

Preventing burnout should always be prioritised, as it is a serious syndrome that can have a detrimental effect on your employees. It’s important to address it now more than ever. The COVID-19 outbreak altered work habits, and there’s an increased incidence of burnout in pretty much all sectors. According to a study, workers are over three times more likely to report poor mental health now than before the outbreak.

This concerning trend is a warning sign to employers, indicating that they need to take proper steps to protect their staff during these trying times.

While eliminating work stress altogether for your remote employees may not be possible, there are steps you can take to reduce the risk of developing burnout syndrome in your team.

Let’s explore eight effective ways of preventing burnout in a remote, pandemic workforce.

Key Takeaways on Preventing Burnout for Remote Workers

  1. Promote stress-reducing behaviors: Ensure managers model optimal work-life balance and set appropriate boundaries for hours and workload.
  2. Create a supportive atmosphere: Encourage open communication about mental health, facilitate connectedness, and offer support for overwhelmed employees.
  3. Automate processes: Implement software solutions to minimise repetitive tasks, improve attendance tracking, and manage workload distribution.
  4. Encourage work-life boundaries: Help remote employees create designated workspaces and maintain a healthy work-life balance.
  5. Avoid rigid work schedules: Allow for flexible schedules to accommodate personal responsibilities and prevent mental exhaustion.
  6. Support time off: Encourage employees to take time off to recharge and alleviate work-related stress.
  7. Reduce remote meeting fatigue: Minimise unnecessary video conferences, replace them with audio calls when possible, and keep meetings short.
  8. Show appreciation: Let employees know their hard work is valued and offer gifts, time off, or care packages as a token of gratitude.

Preventing burnout is essential, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has disrupted work habits and increased stress levels. By implementing these strategies, your organisation can effectively reduce burnout risk and support the well-being of remote employees.

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1. Make sure that managers are promoting stress-reducing behaviours

A culture of overwork negatively impacts employees, even with the burnout prevention programs in place. Actions speak louder than words, so if your managers are working long hours, it won’t lead to happy and balanced employees.

Top of the organisation should model optimal work-life balance and promote mental wellness. Train your managers to help remote workers set appropriate boundaries for their hours and workload.

2. Work on creating a supportive and friendly atmosphere

In these challenging times, it is important to open up the lines of communication on the topic of mental health. Show your staff that you care. For example, you can support them to take mental health day if you notice they are feeling overwhelmed.

Facilitating connectedness is another way to support your staff. To create a friendly environment where employees relate to each other, make sure to encourage them to have zoom coffee breaks together, or to reach out to each other and chat during the day.

Although they are working remotely, it doesn’t have to mean they are isolated and not part of the team.

3. Automate processes to reduce the stress among your staff

Right software solutions can improve your team’s morale by minimising repetitive, manual tasks like manual administrative work. For example, implementing the best time and attendance tracking tools will allow your remote employees to handle clocking, accept shifts, and more on the go.

With this kind of tech tools, you can improve not only attendance tracking but also your overall calendar management. This way, you can distribute the workload fairly, and not end up with overworked and stressed employees.

And your staff will have a clear overview of their work hours and responsibilities.

4. Encourage your team to develop boundaries and stick to them

An “always-on” culture increases burnout risk. If managers are constantly available during the day, your team members might feel the pressure to do the same.

Employees look up to their managers to determine what’s expected of them, so it is vital to encourage people in these positions to model healthy work-life balance.

Remember, the remote employees are never away from their work physically, so developing literal barriers between professional and personal life is necessary for them to avoid burnout.

The best thing employers can do is to support their team to create a designated workspace and provide a budget for the essentials.

5. Avoid rigid work schedules

Flexible work schedules allow people to have better control over their workday while imposing rigid schedules can result in mental exhaustion, and even increase work-family conflict. More flexible schedules can benefit your team in multiple ways.

They allow people to stay healthier, more motivated, and achieve a better work-life balance. This way, they can adapt their personal responsibilities to their workload.

Remember, during the pandemic, some of your employees might have to take care of their ill family members, so a rigid schedule can be frustrating.

6. Support your employees to take time off

If you want to boost your staff’s productivity while safeguarding them from burnout, there is a simple solution! Encourage them to take time off. This may seem counterproductive at first, as many organisations stigmatise time away from work.

Studies have shown that taking time off to recharge and relax is the secret to increased productivity and alleviating work-related stress.

So, make sure to de-stigmatise vacation time.

7. Remote meeting fatigue is real: reduce unnecessary video conferences

Over the last several decades, meetings have increased in frequency and length. In the wake of COVID-19, the remote meeting became the new norm. A busy meeting schedule adds to the stress levels and can take a toll on your remote teams.

Research shows that since the Coronavirus outbreak began, there have been fewer boundaries. Employees are facing significantly more meetings, taking more ad-hoc calls, and dealing with more incoming chats than prior to the pandemic.

According to a study, remote collaboration is more mentally challenging, especially in video meetings.

Consider replacing them with audio calls, and keep the meetings as short as possible. Try to limit them to 30 minutes, and if necessary, follow up by email or chat.

8. Let your team members know you value them

Lastly, make sure your employees know how much you value their hard work, especially during these uncertain times. Sending them a gift card or offering them a little time off are both great ways to express your gratitude. Work together with team leaders to prepare care packages for employees. Prepare self-care kits containing a comfy graphic tee, cute socks, delicious snacks, tea or coffee bags, scented candles, hand lotions, and moisturising masks. The contents don’t have to be fancy or expensive, but they have to make employees know that the organisation has not forgotten them.

The COVID-19 outbreak has caused uncertainty and changing circumstances, so preventing burnout is more vital than ever.

Tips listed above can help your organisation craft and implement a successful strategy to mitigate the risk of remote workforce burnout.

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