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6 Tips to Avoid Burnout in the Virtual Workplace

2020 has been quite the year so far – to say the least. And we’re only six months in… A pandemic has driven us into our homes and changed the way we work, causing many companies to worry about presenteeism and productivity. But showing up for the workday and not being checked in and engaged can cause more than just a productivity issue, it may be a sign of a burnout problem. In fact, a pre-COVID survey found that 82% of remote tech workers in the U.S. felt burnt out. (Just because our beds are just in the other room, doesn’t mean we workaholics won’t overwork ourselves.)

So, we thought we would share some suggestions on how to prevent burnout in this virtual, work-from-home era.

1. Take time off

Did someone say staycation? Yes, you are working from home, and yes, your vacation buddy is probably your five-year-old, or the roommate you found on Craigslist, but you were given vacation time… so don’t be afraid to use it! It’s time to detach from work, it’s time to reset and recharge so you can be your awesome productive self!

We understand pressure can come from your leaders, but that’s why we talk about the importance of communication below.

2. If you’re sick, don’t work

According to a report by Robert Half, 57% of employees sometimes go to work while sick and 33% always go to work while sick.

Sheesh, that’s 90% of workers who have admitted to this. This is no joke. And presenteeism is just as likely to occur remotely as well. If we are willing to overwork our bodies when we are unwell, burnout is inevitable. So, this is a reminder that even though you may already be at home, taking that time to rest when we are sick can ensure that you stay in the game for the long haul.

3. Communicate more 

As it is often said, there is no such thing as over-communication. If you are at risk of burnout, get ahead of it by talking to your leader or team to make them aware that there may be a problem. Then work out a solution to distribute your workload or, potentially, get time off. Being proactive is key.

Along with communication comes setting boundaries. To reduce the pressure of working into the evening, let your team know when your workday ends. Just because we are at home, does not mean we always have to be online. Closing your laptop for the day is the same as leaving the office, and it’s okay to let people know.

4. Avoid call exhaustion

Yes, I know I just preached communication, but sometimes those Zoom calls every hour on the hour can drain us and contribute to burnout. And we all know some of the calls could be emails. But if your calls are mostly with your team, find ways to discuss reducing the number of video calls with them and your leaders. And try to reduce call time by setting a clear agenda for each call.

If that isn’t possible, the Harvard Business Review gives us some tips on how to reduce video call fatigue. From avoiding multitasking on calls to reducing screen stimuli (including staring at your own beautiful face... I’m guilty), these are sure to help your eyes from doing the inevitable glaze-over every once in a while.

5. Rethink engagement

The pandemic and our new work environment have a lot of companies pausing and reflecting on productivity and engagement. If you are finding yourself disconnected from your team or you are finding your employees are not as engaged, it might be time to discuss and rethink your engagement strategy.

We talk about a lot about employee engagement strategies here at Kudos (get seven awesome engagement tips here, for example). And many of the strategies we advocate – like letting employees own their tasks, communicating regularly, setting clear but realistic goals, and making it clear that your organization cares about the well-being of your team members –  seem especially relevant in the present circumstances.

Our own Kudos platform also seems especially relevant in the remote work world. (We couldn’t talk employee engagement without a quick shout out to ourselves, right?)

Kudos encourages positive and proactive behavior, and alignment with your core values, through real-time peer-to-peer recognition. It also enables efficient and effective communication, which is especially vital right now.

Focusing on employee engagement can help your remote employees stay connected to one another, realize their work doesn't go unnoticed, and keep everyone on the same page and aligned towards company goals – even when you’re apart.

When you have a solid engagement plan, it is more likely presenteeism and burnout will become things of the past.

6. Practice self-care and compassion

We are all going through unprecedented times. We are dealing with a pandemic while multitasking our involvement with movements of social justice (well, I sure am). But if you are feeling disengaged from work... well, I would be surprised if you weren’t! And that is okay. Using those personal days, being honest with your employer and employees, and recognizing when things get to be a little too much can help ease the load you feel both physically and mentally. Ultimately, your health comes first, and we must remember to check in with ourselves.

AND... leaders, now is the time to show compassion and empathy. We all want that well-oiled productive machine that is on point all the time, but that machine can’t function properly when its parts are burned out and disengaged.

To learn more about employee engagement, check out our other resources, or connect with us in the chatbot below!

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