How to Avoid Loneliness and Burnout While Working From Home

Combat the Loneliness

  1. Healthy habits. Structure and routine is a proven method for helping offset the effects of depression. Setting regular schedules and checking in with employees often is a good way to add structure to the new, looser work environment. Find ways to add the organization of the office into the at-home workplace.
  2. Set boundaries. Remote workers often work harder to prove they’re being productive, and the blurred lines of at-work vs at-home makes it more difficult to fully turn off at the end of the day. The result is an increased risk for burnout. Encourage employees to take breaks, shut down their computer at the end of the day, turn off their phone notifications, and put up strong barriers between work life and home life.
  3. Build a community. We’re all in this together, so show it! Encourage employees to talk openly about what they’re going through (The kids keep picking the lock to the office door! My spouse keeps drinking all the coffee!). Empathizing with each other and having a shared experience builds community and strengthens relationships between employees while they’re physically distant.
  4. Provide opportunities to connect. A Gallup study the ability to split time between the office and working remotely made the happiest employees. While that isn’t something we can implement today, we can do a virtual version of a similar philosophy. Provide employees and teams with virtual conference rooms to work on projects together, have virtual coffee breaks, and schedule regular team meetings for some face time and make sure everyone stays on the same page. It’s important for employees to remember that they’re still part of a team.
  5. Show appreciation. It’s especially important right now to let employees know they’re seen. Recognition and appreciation go a long way in keeping morale high, and demonstrating that individuals have value and their work contributes to the greater good. It can be as simple as a shoutout on the company Slack channel, or more formal like praise at the virtual all-staff weekly meeting.
  6. Provide spaces to grow. Even though things are different, they aren’t on hold. Demonstrate that employees aren’t stalled during their time at home. Encourage them to take on learning initiatives, start new projects, and cross-train other departments. Give them a future to look forward to, so they don’t get bogged down in where they are right now.

How to Keep the Balance

  • Workload:How much is on their plate?
  • Control:Do they feel in control of their own work? Do they feel micromanaged?
  • Reward:Do they feel recognized for their efforts?
  • Community:Do they feel supported? Do they feel isolated?
  • Fairness:Do they feel held to a common standard? Do they feel that they or others are held to a different standard?
  • Values: Do they feel aligned with the company values?
  1. Have regular one-on-one conversations.Go beyond project updates and ask them how they are feeling about their work or if you and your employees feel comfortable discussing your personal lives, catch up. Make sure to have conversations often to gauge their energy levels, frustrations, or any other issues that may arise.
  2. Be mindful.Make sure to check their schedule before setting meetings or asking for documents, and be careful of their working hours. Show respect for their schedules and their time to reduce stress and frustration while building trust.
  3. Prioritize time off.The average American commutes 200 hours a year. It’s been found that remote employees have been using these extra hours to work longer hours. It has also been found that they answer emails outside of work hours, put time in on the weekend, work when they’re sick, and don’t take vacation days. Managers can watch for these behaviors and signal to employees to slow down. Encourage them by supporting mental-health breaks, powering down at night, taking vacations, and spending time with their families.

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Meredith Wholley

Meredith Wholley

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As a Digital Marketing and Events Manager for ClearCompany, Meredith coordinates best-practice content and brand-awareness events with HR practitioners.