Teams can feel beaten down for any number of reasons. Perhaps they’re coming out of a particularly busy season, or maybe a leadership shake-up has given rise to feelings of instability and anxiety
But for many teams, the sudden move to remote and hybrid work over the past year has resulted in a kind of unfamiliar fatigue that many leaders and employees have never encountered before. Between balancing work and home responsibilities and coping with the heightened tension across society in general, people at all levels are experiencing fatigue.
Despite this fatigue, more than half of employees who can work from home want to continue working remotely after the pandemic. Remote and hybrid work models are here to stay, which means that leaders and employees need to adapt and overcome the fatigue that can result from those models.
Here are five ways to help your hybrid work team overcome remote work fatigue:
1. Acknowledge the Fatigue
Don’t ignore it or sweep it under the rug. Use your position as a leader to acknowledge the fatigue and encourage everyone to talk about it. Pretending it doesn’t exist will only cause your team to become more fatigued. Rather, bring the fatigue to the fore, and encourage your team to open up and empathize with one another.
2. Cultivate Relationships
It can be tough to cultivate personal relationships even in an office setting; hybrid and remote work models make it even tougher. Make an effort to connect with your team, and encourage them to connect with each other. Regard each other as humans, not just workers.
As soon as possible, your connection should periodically take place in person. With ongoing public health concerns and widely dispersed teams, getting together in person is not always feasible. However, as much as possible, try to find ways for your team to connect face-to-face. Whether it’s periodic in-office meetings or an after-hours gathering, the in-person connection can foster team camaraderie and reduce virtual fatigue.
3. Build a Sense of Resilience
Start with yourself. Identify practices you can do in your own life that give you a sense of renewal and energy. Perhaps you start your day with meditation or exercise, or perhaps you need a good hour of quiet reading time in the evening before bed. Make those practices into habits to create a sense of personal resilience, and encourage your team to do the same. As the team builds personal resilience, the team will start to feel less fatigued.
Physical activity is especially important for people working remotely. Encourage your team members to get up and walk around during the day. Even ten minutes of walking, three times per day, can promote physical health and reduce fatigue.
4. Give Permission to Turn Off or Manage Technology
Two of the biggest challenges remote workers face are digital distractions (e-mails, texts, instant messages, etc.) and virtual overload (online meetings and other virtual touchpoints). The technology tools that make remote work possible are the biggest factors contributing to remote work fatigue!
While connecting with remote employees is vital to the health of the organization, encourage your remote employees to find ways to manage the technology that help them work more productively. Do they need to put themselves in airplane mode for a while to concentrate on important tasks? Do they need to set aside specific time for checking e-mail or responding to messages? Allow your team to manage technology tools in ways that work for them.
5. Set an Example of "Turning Off" Every Day
Related to managing technology is the fatigue that comes from feeling “always on.” Many remote workers feel like they can’t turn off. They look to after-hours periods to finish work that digital distractions prevented earlier in the day, or they feel like they have to respond to messages that come in when they are connecting with family or at the gym.
Communicate to your team that they are expected to “turn off” every day, and set the example yourself. Sign out, log off, and enjoy life outside of work—and communicate that you want your team to do the same.
Remote and hybrid work models offer some significant advantages for employees and companies, but not at the expense of mental health or long-term productivity. Helping your team reduce fatigue now will set you up for long-term employee retention and business success.