How to Help Your Employees Work From Home Without Burning Out

I think it's safe to say that Covid-19 has ushered in a revolution when it comes to the future of how we work.

Whether we like it or not, more of us are going to be working from home for the foreseeable future. It'll become a normal part of life.

For many, working from home offers greater flexibility, improved comfort, and increased productivity.

However, it does come with some downsides. One major issue with working from home is that is can often induce burn-out.

This, in turn, means unhappy employees. And unhappy employees don't do good work.

This is a potent problem, and perhaps even more pertinent for startups that tend to be on the frontlines of the work-from-home revolution.

With that in mind, I thought I'd share some ways you can reduce burn-out in your employees if they're working from home.

Talk to them

This might sound obvious, but you'd be amazed how quickly normal lines of communication break down when your employees are working remotely.

When I say "talk to them", I don't mean send them an odd Slack message, or bombard them with emails. I mean properly talk to them. One-to-one. On a human level.

You see, when your team is all together in your swanky office, they'll talk to each other a lot. That's part of office culture. Humans are social animals, and any opportunity to talk we'll take it.

All that office gossip, the banter, even the general chit-chat - it's all crucial to how your team bonds and strengthens relationships.

But when they work from home, it's easy for all of that to dry up. Your team can easily stop talking to each other.

This radio silence can make your employees feel isolated, lonely, and out of the loop. In turn, they'll begin to feel a little more drained and exhausted. In other words, they'll start to burn out.

That's why it's really important that you schedule in time to talk to them. Take the time to speak to each and every employee (either just you and them, or even a group call).

With the tech at our disposal, there's no excuse. You can easily video call and talk to each other as if you're in the office.

Oh, and by the way, you aren't talking about work on these calls. These are purely social. Chat about what you're getting up to, any news in your lives. Talk about TV you've watched, food you've eaten. Anything but work stuff.

Slow them down

Research suggests that people can't be productive all day long. A recent study, in fact, found that people tend to be productive for less than 3 hours of the working day.

Now, as a startup founder, that may alarm you. You might be wondering why you're paying your team full-time salaries if they're only working a quarter of the time.

But why not look at it another way?

It means that there's no use in pushing people to work as much as they can. Cramming as many tasks as possible into your employee's schedules won't make them any more productive. Rather, it'll push them closer to burn-out.

This problem is exacerbated when people work from home. Normally, employees have a limited amount of time with which to fill their work schedule.

Once they leave the office at the end of the day, their brain can switch to non-work mode.

At home, there's no office to leave. Sure, people might have a dedicated room that they use as an office, but they're in the same building. This means it's easier for them to keep on working. It's harder to slow down.

Your job as an employer is to make sure people slow down. Don't set them more work than is necessary. Explain to them that it's okay to take their time on tasks.

You should also consider enabling your team to work even more flexible hours, and to enforce non-work hours too.

Encouraging your employees to slow down while they're working from home is key to avoiding burn-out.

Think long-term

One of the most common reasons for burn-out is when employees feel like they don't know the long-term goals of the company they work for.

If you don't know what you're working towards, then it's hard to understand why your job is important. And if you don't think your job is important then burn-out is right around the corner.

Keeping your employees in the know when it comes to long-term planning is crucial. But the current situation has led to many people concerned for their jobs, wondering if their companies are going to change direction.

I'm a firm believer in the power of long-term goals over short-term gains.

Focusing on the long-term means that even abnormal events like a pandemic don't impact where you're heading. Yes, chances are you may have to adjust your route slightly, but the ultimate destination is the same.

If your startup focuses on short-term gains, then these may now be thrown up in the air. It means your employees may suddenly have to drop everything they were working on and start fresh on new initiatives.

This can be disorientating, and even more so when they're working from home.

That's why you need to think long-term. This way your employees still know what they're working towards, and they won't experience as big a change.

This will keep them motivated and reduce the risk of burn-out.

It's a marathon

I'm not sure we'll be returning to pre-covid normality anytime soon. In fact, part of me thinks that we never will, and that working from home will become a natural part of our lives.

It's important that startup founders and employers think about ways they can help their employees work productively while also considering their wellbeing.

Burn-out is a very real threat, especially when working from home, and hopefully the tips I've shared can help reduce the risk.

Remember, it's a marathon, not a sprint. Make sure your employees don't go too fast.

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