Working from home fatigue has increasingly become a significant challenge for employers managing their teams outside of the office. While the sudden shift to remote work has allowed workers to conduct tasks and collaborate within health and safety guidelines, a growing portion of employees say they felt more burned out over time while working from home.
While not every worker will struggle while working from home, we wanted to provide some insights to help employers identify those that are struggling and provide strategies for addressing their needs while working remotely.
Related Reading: 9 Tips for Effectively Onboarding Remote Employees
The Impact of Remote Work on Employees
As the COVID-19 quarantine continued throughout 2020, more and more employees reported feeling tired of working from home. A July 2020 Monster poll found that 69% of surveyed workers were burned out while conducting jobs remotely, up from 51% when surveyed in May. Despite feeling that way, 42% of respondents said they were not planning to take any time off.1
When polled about why full-time workers miss in-person work, respondents from a recent Indeed survey said they miss:
- In-person social interactions (73% of polled workers)
- Fewer distractions in the office setting compared to at home (64%)
- Their commute (50%)
- In-person meetings with coworkers (45%)
- A daily routine of going to the office (37%)2
Remote work doesn’t affect workers equally, however. In the absence of in-person school for children, mothers are disproportionately burdened by remote work conditions. According to a Great Place to work and Maven analysis, mothers are 28% more likely to suffer from burnout than fathers.3 This fatigue is getting to female workers too—contributing to more frequent resignations than male workers.
In September 2020, women were found to be more than four times likely to quit their jobs than men. During that month, 1.1 million workers aged 20 and over left the workforce and are either not employed or are not looking for a job according to a National Women’s Law Center report.4 Of that population, 865,000 were women, making up 80% of the total job losses, and 216,000 were men.
Signs of Work From Home Fatigue
Employees may show working from home fatigue in different ways. Here are a few signs employers should look out for that could indicate team members are burned out from remote work:
- Delayed or lower quality projects
- Reduced creativity
- Work completed before or after work hours
- Complaints about lack of sleep or headaches
- Increased absence from or less participation in collaboration calls
- Not taking time off
Employers can promote team success by identifying remote employees who are starting to feel worn out and supporting their needs.
Related Reading: How to Improve Engagement for Remote Employees
Strategies to Deal With Work From Home Fatigue
Employers looking to help their team overcome work-from-home burnout should take a hands-on approach to identifying potential trouble spots and provide outlets for social and mental health needs.
Try these strategies to help remote employees reduce working from home fatigue:
- Check in with workers regularly
Some team members may struggle to feel motivated while remote, but may not open up to coworkers about it on their own. By scheduling time one-on-one, employees will have the opportunity to talk about the challenges they face while in a remote setting, which allows management or human resources to acknowledge any problems and think of solutions that could address them.
- Enable flexible work situations and encourage breaks
Working from home can blur the line between professional and personal life, especially for those without dedicated office spaces. Employers should remind employees that it’s perfectly acceptable to take time to get some fresh air or step away from their computer to reduce stress and prevent burning out. Managers should also accommodate team member preferences when striking the balance between in-person and remote work.
- Set realistic goals
Employees working from their homes may feel more isolated than when they were in the office, which can make projects seem daunting. Employers should reframe project goals, shorten timeframes, and break projects into smaller tasks to help employees feel confident and achieve short-term wins.
- Offer virtual social gatherings
The lack of face-to-face interaction may be challenging for some workers. That’s why virtual happy hours or social calls give team members the opportunity to catch up and discuss non-work-related topics in the absence of watercooler conversations.
Remote work will continue to play a role in how organizations continue to run their businesses. Employers should pay close attention to how their employees hold up outside the office to promote retention and employee success.
Are your employees burned out from remote work or are you facing any recruitment challenges during this time? Speak to a Sparks Group expert and we will identify solutions for your workforce challenges.