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Employees Working Remotely Are Effective, Engaged, & Burnt Out

Rachel Reed
12/2/20 3:58 PM

As of September, nearly 40% of full-time employees were working entirely from home (vs. 4% pre-COVID). 

The top five factors correlated with burnout before the pandemic were:

  1. unfair treatment at work
  2. unmanageable workload
  3. unclear communication from managers
  4. lack of manager support
  5. unreasonable time pressure

The option to work remotely on occasion or a couple days a month is a much different story from the whole world being required to stay at home for eight months. The benefits of working remotely (occasionally) before the pandemic resulted in lower levels of burnout compared with employees who were on-site 100% of the time.

Now, burnout is a little more complex because so many workers are still scrambling to strike a work-from-home balance. That’s not to say employee engagement is lacking; in fact, despite juggling emotional and physical stress and exhaustion, post-pandemic fully remote workers are somehow still effective and engaged under the circumstances. But they are very stressed. And stress is associated with serious health problems -- including heart disease, diabetes and reduced immunity.

Today, the physical office is less important, and instead things like flexibility, career security, development, and progression are highly valued by young talent and commonly offered.

Just like before the pandemic, work-from-home policies never work out well for employees if their managers aren't truly supportive of and transparent about their specific expectations. When the challenges of remote work transpire into micromanagement or absent managers, that's when things fall apart.

How Can Managers Curb Burnout?

Be intentional about employee development 

Not all employees will advocate for themselves, especially if they are isolated, burnt out, or checked out. Be sure to check in frequently and offer career development opportunities, provide assistance, tools, support, or even just an ear. 

Give regular acknowledgement 

This can be in the form of employee recognition tied to organizational values that lets employees know their worth and inspires them to continually perform their best. 

Communicate 

Managers should funnel communications from leadership in order to remain clear on expectations, developments, and future direction. Uncertainty among employees can breed stress and toxicity in the workplace. 

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