One year ago today, working from home was considered 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 to an unpredictable and chaotic 2020, working from home is now the norm for many workers across the country. Some employees are struggling to adjust to this new reality, often juggling competing Zoom calls, spotty WiFi, family members in the background, and more.
Is it possible to find a constructive 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. Now more than ever, employers must be conscious of ways to reinvigorate and support their team members. Although leaders may want employees to be focused on business as usual, we are not in a “usual” period of time! Here are some questions to consider when trying to prevent burnout on your team:
- Does every single meeting require employees to have their cameras on?
For employees working from home right now, it can be difficult and stressful to have cameras on during every meeting. Though some meetings should require cameras for a sense of team camaraderie, or for presentation purposes, consider implementing a policy (even an informal one) about when cameras can be off. This can help reduce camera anxiety, especially for employees who are not comfortable bringing their team into their homes or workspaces at all times.
- 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. Even if your team is in the same time zone, some employees may have significant circumstances that impact their ability to take a call or video conference at certain times.
Communicate with your team to find optimal times for meetings, and try to keep them within classic business hours. If your team must have meetings before 9:00 a.m., or after 5:00 p.m., be conscious about the impact this could have on some employees. Offering impacted employees the option to flex their schedules to accommodate any time discrepancies can reinforce management’s respect for differences in schedules. It may not be possible to accommodate each employee’s requests at all times, but team members need to see that leaders are doing their best to be inclusive.
- Are employees receiving extensive emails or being expected to work during times that are normally outside the bounds of their employment?
When working from home, the lines between personal hours and work hours can become increasingly blurred! Employees may be sucked into working and sending emails at odd hours of the morning or night. This may be a positive for those who like flex schedules, but can cause anxiety for those who will feel pressured to reply to emails at all times. Consider implementing an email policy so the entire team is on the same page. If employees often send emails at unusual times, there should be a clear rule that no one is expected to reply until normal business hours. Or, ask team members to schedule emails so they only come in during (or close to) business hours, regardless of the time they are written.
Finally, it is important to recognize that people still need a break, even when working from their homes. Encourage employees to take care of themselves! There will always be employees who fail to take healthy, necessary breaks unless specifically invited to do so. Some employers have offered select “Offline Fridays” that start in the afternoon, which is an awesome way to validate and reiterate the importance of time for personal care.
As always, it is important to create policies that work best for your individual team; finding solutions to these matters is never a one size fits all approach.