Beginning mid-March, approximately 40 percent of the US workforce was able work from home to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. For most organizations, this transition to telework happened quickly without any period for planning. At the same time, other members of the household – significant others, children, roommates and other family members – were also told to stay at home. Now, four months later, the ongoing uncertainties from the pandemic and stressors from balancing work and home life are taking a toll. Employee burnout, isolation, overworking and the frustration of dealing with work and home life under one roof day after day are all effects of work from home (WFH) fatigue.
So how can you combat WFH fatigue?
By using some simple and straight-forward strategies, employers and employees can support one another while maintaining a balanced culture and fostering productivity. Here are a few suggestions that may help to alleviate your WFH fatigue:
Keep in touch with your employees; if needed, overcommunicate –Many employees are concerned about the future of their organization, the reopening process, reorganization, layoffs and pay cuts. Weekly communications about the future helps to relieve anxiety during this time.
Have consistent times for team meetings – Employees may be looking for some sense of normalcy. Many organizations have found that a weekly or daily “stand-up” time is an effective way for employees to inform each other of what they are working on, talk about challenges they’re facing or even just say hello.
Meet with you team members weekly by video – Once a week have a video conference meeting with each of your employees to check on their progress, health and to discuss work for the next week. Using video will allow you and your employees to feel that connection with their team. It’s a nice way to have that interpersonal connection and serve as a reminder that we aren’t just voices behind a screen!
Have informal employee engagement meetings – These can include ice breakers, virtual town halls, happy hours, pet groups and or other groups for teleworkers to socialize. Employees need these channels to refresh and feel connected.
Have empathy – Remember that your employees may have different needs and sometimes disruptions can’t be avoided. Although we are in the same storm, we may be in different boats.
Keep the team spirit high – Make sure that you are highlighting your team’s work and focus on achievements. Employees don’t want to be forgotten just because they are working from home.
Keep a regular schedule – To the degree possible, establish a routine that works for you. If you can, try to start work around the same time, take breaks, and have lunch away from your desk.
Set boundaries on work schedules – Do your best to end the workday at a consistent time. When you’re working from home, it’s easy to keep working on a project past your normal work hours, but working late into your evening can cause fatigue and burnout. Make sure that you have time away from your work!
Stay healthy – Boost your immune system and reduce stress by eating healthy, exercising, mediating and/or limiting your media consumption. However you do it, make sure you’re taking care of you!
Use what worked before – If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your work, take a breath and think about what worked for you when you were in the office. Set priorities, work with you colleagues and, if there is an issue, communicate it.
Pick up the phone and contact people – It is still completely OK to call people. Not every interaction has to be on your computer!
Avoid videoconferencing fatigue – Spending hours on video calls can be tiresome. If you’re feeling meeting fatigue, try to spread them out throughout the day.
Take a vacation – Although it’s difficult to go on vacation during COVID-19, it might be a good idea to take some time off from work to refresh and just enjoy the family without the pressures of keeping up with the office. It’s amazing what a difference a few days make!
Cover photo from Prateek Katyal on Unsplash