Sudden transition to remote work has become the NEW normal amid Covid-19 pandemic. This has also led employers to be more concerned about maintaining employee productivity while working from home (WFH). Not only productivity, employers also need to pay attention to the longer-term risk of telecommuting that might lead to decreased productivity: employee burnout.
Employees are urged to work remotely from home which often makes the lines between private and professional matters become blurred. For those who are working remotely from the first time, the impact will be felt greater. IES Working at Home Wellbeing Survey, for example, found that employees are unhappy with their new work-life balance.
Polling 500 workers, IES revealed that half of the respondents were not happy working from home, while 48 percent putting in longer and more irregular hours than they would under normal circumstances. There is also an increase in physical complaints, with more than half of respondents reported new aches and pains associated with bad postures, including necks (58 percent), shoulders (56 percent) and backs (55 percent). Work burnout is also increasing with a third reported increase concern over matters such as job security and health of family members that cause sleep loss.
See also: HR Top Priority during COVID-19
Stephen Bevan, head of HR research development at the IES and survey lead, commented that with nearly all employees unhappy with the new normal and burnout is likely increasing, employers need to recognise that they are still responsible for the wellbeing of their staff, even when they are working from home. Hence, there should be a number of steps taken to improve employee’s wellbeing despite they are not physically present at the office.
Employers are urged to ensure that employees have a routine, which would help with work-life balance, stress and sleep – such that will help decrease the burnout caused by the new work style. Here are four tips that can be implemented in helping employees avoid WFH burnout.
More than half of IES respondents reported pains and aches due to bad postures, as a result of improper screen set or monitor. In this case, employers should supply a separate keyboard, mouse, and adjustable table to each worker who does not already have this equipment at home. Providing this equipment will help those who do not have a work desk to comfortably work in the right posture, thus, reducing the pains and aches.
Sticking to the normal 9-5 schedule might be unrealistic in this unprecedented new normal. Especially employees who live with the elderly, kids, and big family members, they might feel overwhelmed with the external distraction at home. Therefore, it is advised for HR to encourage their employees to communicate their distraction and help address them. HR can also aid employees in structuring, coordinating, and managing the pace of work which might require regular virtual check-in with employees. Meanwhile, managers and leaders can provide tools to create virtual coffee or workspaces, keeping a sense of normality as the key to productivity.
Working from home with the new schedule might lead employees to feel compelled to project. There might also be a tendency of counterproductivity as a result of increased workloads as employees juggle between family and work tasks. Here, leaders can help sort out which task is urgent and which task can be submitted later, helping employees feel more organised and avoid counterproductive workloads.
Burnout is mostly produced by violating a routine that has been created. As an instance, in a 9-5 job, employees should already end their task and log off from laptop or any work-related devices at 5 pm sharp. But instead of doing so, many employees are rushing to finish more tasks, leading them to overwork. Consequently, this leads to imbalance, stress, and burnout. For this very reason, employers should give the right for their employees to disconnect from work. Encourage them to put away their work devices and log off when they have worked their contracted hours each day. Routine is the key to successful work management.