Flexible and remote work strategies i.e., work from home policies are becoming increasingly popular among employees since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. As the number of remote and flexible workers increases substantially over time, companies will be required to modify their methods of operation.
A change in employee policies would result in a systemic and structural change to accustom them to the flexible ways employees may choose or not to work. However, remote work gives rise to new challenges for the corporate industry. Out of all the hazards, two of them: burnout and loneliness have a significant impact on well-being.
What is burnout and how does it affect employees?
Employees availing flex or remote policies are usually more grateful towards their employers than they would have been if they were present at work offices. This feeling of gratitude may lead some remote workers to keep pressing the pedal until they run out of gas. This situation is called worker burnout. While some of the increased work intensity is aggravated by the worker themself, it is often the employer who dumps workloads that are too difficult to accomplish within certain timeframes. Hence, it is crucial that workers feel gratitude instead of indebtment for them to avoid burnout. Remote workers are even more difficult to diagnose since their employers are unable to note their changes in character daily.
How does loneliness affect remote workers?
Loneliness is the most significant downside to working remotely. Although being alone does not necessarily cause loneliness, it often aggravates the situation. Loneliness is a menacingly expansive epidemic that is worrying scientists globally.
According to the CDC, social isolation has a significant effect on increased chances of premature mortality. Studies show that it is a risk that may be potentially deadlier than smoking, obesity, and physical inactivity. Research further finds that social isolation increases the risk of dementia by 50%.
Moreover, the risk it poses exceeds that of several other leading health indicators. These workers who work remotely from home primarily constitute a higher level of engagement than the usual 9 to 5 workers. However, remote workers are more likely to say they had a best friend at work than the usual 9 to 5 crowd, and that their work furnishes them with opportunities to learn and grow.
5 Objective Tips to Avoid Loneliness and Burnout
Planting dedicated focus blocks within schedule
Short dedicated blocks and five minutes break from work go a long way in avoiding burnout and loneliness. Most of us imagine remote workers in their pyjamas, relaxing on the couch with their laptops, slouching, and working while watching TV. But anyone in the line of remote work knows better.
The workers can utilize their power breaks to have lunch, locomote once in a while, or just simply rest from work for a couple of minutes. Since there is no confinement to the usual 9 to 5 hours, remote workers can flexibly work through the day, whenever they feel productive and able.
Socialize willingly and regularly
If your job of remote working does not offer you a chance to socialize with your colleagues or teammates, go ahead and make plans with friends or family members after work if you are feeling lonelier than usual.
These plans help you feel part of your tribe or community, and they will assure you stop working when you work shift or day ends so that you are not overwhelmed by work or burnt out. When your office becomes your home, it becomes harder to differentiate between the work hours and personal hours, and making plans post-work such as dinner or drinks will drive your social compass and off of your workload.
Stay in touch with other remote workers
It is more beneficial to interact with colleague remote workers than it usually seems. For starters, the feeling of relatability is paramount. They relate to your lifestyle, face the challenges you face, and conversing with such people provides a feeling of reassurance and support. Since remote working created a buzz, more and more are becoming aware of our proneness to loneliness from remote work. As a result, coworking spaces have begun to grow wider.
These measures are amply sufficient for remote workers to ward off loneliness at work. Maybe you will find a friend or two who work remotely like you. Schedule your time to meet up with them and even work together.
Participate actively in-office meetings
Communication is the key and remote working is no exception. Establishing communication with team members to work out misunderstandings helps in propagating complex ideas more effectively. Participating in weekly or monthly meetings is an efficient way to improve communication. As remote workers, they need to know that they are participants of the same community, even if they are not part of the day-to-day work hours at the office. Employers can provide agendas and systems in place that ensure the significant participation of remote workers in group discussions, no matter where they work.
Avail a break from the usual home office
One of the best things a remote worker can do to avoid burnout and loneliness is to get out of their home office and find someplace else to work productively. They must strive to work outside of their home confines at least once every week.
Remote workers often have moments when they feel they are alone and overcoming this is one of the biggest challenges of the remote working ethos. When such loneliness begins to set in, it can crash productivity, connection with teammates, and the worker’s overall wellbeing. Of all the tips listed here for remote workers to avoid loneliness, it must be a priority not to recognize loneliness and possess a prepared list of effective measures to combat such loneliness.
A Final Word
As a remote worker myself, I actively avail every way to prevent burnout from remote work. It is imperative that when a person feels valued and part of a team, they are more productive, communicate without hindrances, and form an accurate flow of information with their team and colleagues.
Even the smallest of miscommunications can completely derail the success of the project, the team in charge, and the relationship with a client. All track factors hugely contribute to both turnout and loneliness. So, be on the lookout for any of these if you too are a remote worker.