For businesses looking to offer flexibility to their teams, remote working is becoming common practice. Over the last year, it’s become necessary for many. Employees and employers are having to adapt quickly.
A study into COVID-19 and workplace burnout from TollFreeForwarding.com has found that 37% of people feel their work productivity has declined since the pandemic began. Mental health is being negatively affected, with frustration, anxiety, and stress being the most common health symptoms experienced.
Employee burnout is a key factor in the loss of morale, communication, and productivity in business, so employers must take steps to reduce both the causes and symptoms of burnout.
Here are some of the best steps that businesses can take to avoid employee burnout and ensure communications remain effective while working remotely.
1. Establish Communicative Guidelines for Remote Working
Everyone works in different ways. Some prefer to plan out every aspect of their day and put tasks into a calendar, while others prefer handwritten notes. Some like to leave a consistent email chain, while some will pop over to their colleague’s desk to work out any issues. In an office, this doesn’t pose too much of an issue for work. When working remotely, however, it’s a different story.
When remote working, ensure that the entire team is on the same page to minimize disruptions. Establish clear guidelines when it comes to how your team communicates. Are you using Teams, Hangouts, or Zoom? Should you only schedule meetings at certain times of the day? Do you have specific channels for each team? What should be an email versus a chat message? What justifies a video call? Decide this early on and make it clear to everyone.
2. Provide the Right Equipment
Seventeen percent of those surveyed lack the tools they require to do their job from home. That’s almost a fifth of staff who cannot work productively. It’s the responsibility of each company to provide the correct equipment for staff who are working remotely. You should draw up an inventory of the equipment everyone needs and ensure it is all in good working order. This applies to obvious things like computers and screens, but you should also consider cameras, webcams, mics, and headsets depending on your business.
You should also speak to staff about their work setup – do they have enough space to work effectively? Do they have an ergonomic office chair? While effective working spaces come down to the individual’s circumstances, businesses should do as much as possible to help set staff up with a productive working space.
3. Recreate the Office Environment
For those experiencing remote working for the first time, many find they are missing the office environment. Thirty-eight percent of respondents in the survey said that they’ve developed a new appreciation for the office and the camaraderie it brings.
Face-to-face interaction is key for a positive working environment. It can be difficult to capture the essence of an office when staff aren’t able to interact in person. Businesses should take steps to recreate a social environment wherever possible. Staff will get used to seeing each other over video calls for meetings, but it’s the day-to-day chat element that’s often missing.
One way to get around this is by creating dedicated video chats for breakouts and socializing. If your canteen is a friendly spot, a lunchtime video call that staff can join is a great way to bring people together. If you’re the kind of co-workers who go for a drink at the end of the week, try recreating this over video chat. Spending time with colleagues and not focusing on work conversations is a must to keep a sense of togetherness.
4. Be Over Supportive
The survey also highlights a clear need for employee support. Thirty-seven percent state they don’t think their organization is doing enough to support them through the current crisis. Thirty-two percent want an increase in communication levels across the business, along with dedicated mental health support.
Regular 1:1 meetings and reviews are a must when working remotely as they allow you to check in with staff and see whether they require more support. Consider each individual’s personal and home circumstances, too. Those who live alone or have been personally affected by the pandemic, for example, may require more communicative support from the business.
5. Avoid Micromanaging
Finally, ensure you don’t become a micromanager. If you’re a business that has adapted to remote working for the first time, it can be difficult not knowing what staff are doing day-to-day. However, if this causes you to constantly check on staff and monitor their work, this will undoubtedly lead to lower morale. While staff should know you’re there and available for communication, they shouldn’t feel like you’re monitoring them or don’t trust that they’re getting the job done.
Employees who feel trusted when working remotely will have higher morale and better productivity than those who feel micromanaged. So, place trust in your staff – you hired them for a reason.
Remote working remains a positive thing for employees, offering the flexibility needed to achieve work-life balance. It’s important to ensure morale remains high in situations when employees don’t have the option of face-to-face contact. Ensure your business is providing staff with the equipment they need to work successfully, create clear guidelines for communication, offer support without micromanaging, and take steps to replicate the social nature of the office environment. You’ll soon see remote business communications flourish.