By Sam Hill, Head of People and Culture at BizSpace
The vast majority of UK workers have now been working from home for almost a year. For thousands of us this has been a shock to the system and a real shift from the norm, even this far on. For many, a clear boundary between work and home life will be increasingly difficult to maintain and this can lead to a real feeling of burnout. The following tips can help you combat this unique form of burnout and help to keep morale up in your teams:
Maintaining good and open communication is a vital part of managing the fatigue of working from home. The success of most businesses is rooted in the comms approach throughout. Many office workers across the country may be living alone, in shared accommodation or having to juggle the added pressures of being at home more often, like childcare for example.
All of this can lead to feeling a sense of isolation from the team; something that can come as a real shock to the system. While many won’t have a choice but to be working from home, team leaders could encourage the use of instant messaging like Slack and Google Chat.
Daily huddles and weekly catch-ups with a line manager or mentor using a mixture of video and voice calls can help to keep people updated and on top of targets, with managers offering a steer and guidance. Keeping this constant open-door can replicate that feeling of being in the office where teams can so easily communicate and celebrate wins with each other. Offering that sense of gratification can go a long way to ensuring that the team feels valued while segregated.
Show you trust your team
The traditional working hours are now no longer ‘normal’, with many of us now juggling responsibilities from home that we didn’t have to during the working day, such as childcare. This can lead to a feeling of needing to prove that all work is being done, leading to overworking and, in turn, burnout. Thousands of us are defined by the 9-5, taking lunch at the same time each day and having a physical presence in front of colleagues to prove we are actually working. At home, we don’t have this way of ‘proving’ ourselves externally.
To combat this, and avoid a team that is working over-capacity, it’s important to show that you trust your team. You can do this by being flexible and less formal and, where meetings are required, keeping these 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.
Give everyone a purpose
Working from home every day can lead to questioning the purpose of work. With limited physical interaction, reward and no office to go to, it can be difficult to remember the reason behind why we work. It is 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, keeping teams updated on business progress, including any wins, challenges and opportunities.
This then needs to filter down through the hierarchy, with each level of the team being aware of how their work contributes to the overall goal of the company. No role in a team is obsolete and everyone contributes to the success of the overall goal.
Set expectations and priorities
When delegating work, be absolutely clear of the deadlines and what the top priorities are. For the more inexperienced members of the team, being in the office has a monumental impact on their progression and will allow them to pick up skills and lean on peers for guidance; something that is not possible at present.
As a team leader or manager, making workload priorities explicit from the offset and checking in once a week on progress can help to guide the workload without micromanaging and guide those that may need more of a steer.
Taking a break from the dining room table or home office is key to keeping a clear and focused mind throughout the day. Workers are likely to be spending more time at their screens with no need to leave the house, 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 is not neglecting their own need for fresh air and daylight?
Using instant messaging, a social chat can be an escape for many employees to talk about everything that isn’t work. Encouraging a weekly thread where the team can share photos of their week and something they have done might be a nice way to encourage people to do more other than stay in the house.
Apps like Strava that track exercise can also be a great teambuilding activity that encourages movement. Creating a leaderboard for the amount of miles each person logs in exercise outside should encourage competition among the team. It doesn’t have to be strenuous exercise either, so whether they’re walking or in a wheelchair, riding or running, encourage people to get outside and spend time away from the screen.
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