One year ago today, working from home was thought of as a perk to a position. No early morning commute, no flipping through talk radio stations, and no rush hour traffic…that was the dream! Fast forward past an unpredictable and chaotic 2020, working from home is now the norm for a majority of workers across the country. Employees are finding themselves struggling to adjust to this new reality, often juggling childcare, pets, competing Zoom calls, and spotty WiFi. Is it possible to find a healthy balance between productivity and sanity while managing the weight of these unusual times, work responsibilities, and the other requirements of daily life?
The answer is yes. For employers reading this, it’s your responsibility to reinvigorate and support your team members now more than ever. For employees reading this, consider bringing these concerns and potential solutions to higher management if they resonate. But, without further ado, here are some questions you should consider when trying to prevent burnout on your team:
- Does every single meeting need to require that cameras/videos are on?
For parents working from home right now, it’s often difficult and stressful to have their cameras turned on at every meeting. Though some meetings should require cameras for a sense of team camaraderie or for presentation purposes, consider implementing a policy (even if it’s an informal one) about when cameras are truly needed and when they aren’t. This will help reduce camera anxiety, especially for employees with young children.
- Are team meetings set at extremely early hours in the day, or late in the evening, despite potential lifestyle or time zone differences?
If your team is spread out across time zones, scheduling meetings can often be difficult. However, I recommend talking to your team to find times for meetings, when possible, that fit in between the classic 9-5 hours, or see if anyone is willing to flex their schedule to accommodate the time discrepancy (i.e. working 11:00-7:00 instead of 9:00-5:00). You may not always be able to accommodate everyone’s needs at all times, but your team needs to see that you’re trying your best to listen and support them as individuals.
- Are employees receiving extensive emails or being expected to work during times that are normally outside the bounds of their employment?
When you work from home, it’s easy to find yourself sucked into your computer at odd hours of the morning or night (night owls, unite!). This is helpful for some people who like flex schedules, but can cause anxiety for those who will feel pressured to reply to emails at all times. Consider implementing a WFH email policy so your team is all on the same page. If you allow employees to send emails at unusual times, then perhaps make it a rule that nobody is expected to reply until normal business hours. Or, you can ask your team to schedule their emails so they only come in during business hours, regardless of the time it’s written.
Finally, it is important to recognize that people still need time off, even when working from home. Some employers have offered “Offline Fridays” which are an awesome way to validate and reiterate the importance of time for personal care, especially to employees who otherwise might not create time to step away from their computer or laptop. As always, it’s best to create policies that work best for your individual team; finding solutions to these matters is never a one size fits all approach.