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Dear ReWorker: My Employees Are Experiencing Burn Out at Home. Help!
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Dear ReWorker: My Employees Are Experiencing Burn Out at Home. Help!

Suzanne Lucas
Founder, Evil HR Lady

FEBRUARY 10, 2021

Dear ReWorker,

My employees hate working from home. They hate everything about it. They say they have trouble having set routines, and working with kids in the home is even more challenging. Do you have any suggestions? As a manager, how can I help them in this situation?

Sincerely,

Worked up about working from home

+++++

Dear Worked Up,

Your employees are not alone in their feelings. Nearly 70% of workers are experiencing burnout while working from home, Monster found. While many people praise remote work (myself included), it’s not for everyone. And pandemic working at home is very different from regular working at home. For one, in non-pandemic times, the kids are at school or daycare. I’ve successfully worked from home for 12 years, but having my kids home is driving me nuts.

Here’s some advice that may help transform their experience.

Help Workers Set a Schedule

Some employees really miss their commutes and morning routines—encourage them to pick up a morning hobby to get that time back. For instance, every morning, I drink a cup of hot chocolate while I do a language lesson on Duolingo, and then I listen to a short inspiring talk—usually about 10 minutes. I do this every day, even though it might not be at the same time every day.

Your workers can also incorporate some scheduled down-time to center and focus in the morning—listen to a podcast, do a workout, anything. Diving directly into work while wearing pajamas erases the line between home and work, and could contribute to the burnout your employees feel.

Get Your Employees Outside

I know, there’s nowhere to go. But, depending on your weather, suggest that your employees go for a walk every day, or at least a few times a week. Better yet, have that next one-on-one check in meeting via FaceTime while simultaneously taking walks. Being stuck at home for extended periods of time can negatively affect mental and physical health—even fifteen minutes outdoors per day can help clear the mind, increase Vitamin D intake, and improve concentration, among other benefits.

Offer Learning Opportunities

Doing the same work tasks day-to-day can get repetitive and boring. Doing these same work tasks while being stuck at home is even worse. Learning and development can play a critical role in motivating employees and getting them excited again about their roles and the company at large, so provide these as much as possible. And, as workers gain new skills and confidence, learning may even drive them to explore other opportunities within the company, be it a completely new position, or simply a new project.

Create the Right Work Environment

From Marie Kondo’s approach to cleaning, to the new "Minimalist Challenge," there’s a growing trend of reducing clutter. Working in a messy, overflowing environment can make it difficult to focus, feel creative, and be productive. Suggest a team-wide cleaning challenge, and try it yourself. With fewer things to distract them, your employees may feel a bit more relaxed and positive.

Consider a Hybrid Office Model

Depending on where you live and the current COVID-19 cases in your area, this may or may not be possible. But, if there is potential to re-open your office and welcome employees back on a rotating basis, or in a way that keeps them socially distant, it may work wonders.

More than half of employees say they want a hybrid model of work, where they are in the office some of the time, and at home the rest. With that in mind, a day or two in the office per week may be enough to help them overcome the burnout and frustration that has built up over months of working at home.

Remind Employees That Mandatory Remote Work Is Temporary

Eventually, this pandemic will end, and just saying that out loud can help your employees feel more optimistic about the future. Schools will reopen, and so will offices. It will happen, and we will all get through this together.

Sincerely,

Your ReWorker

Suzanne Lucas

For more on how to help your organization and your people adapt during the evolving pandemic, check out these COVID-19 resources for HR leaders.

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