Remote teams can be quite productive and cost-efficient. Those are some of the main reasons why so many employers are shifting towards this method of work. The workers love this as well. When they don’t follow a strict office schedule, they can balance their work and their families. They can also plan their time in a way that allows them to work when they feel most productive.
However, there’s a hidden danger behind the concept of remote work: not everyone can juggle work and family. When remote workers turn their homes into an office, they may find themselves working longer hours than they otherwise would. Such attitude will easily lead to a burnout, and that’s something you definitely don’t want to happen with your remote team.
Since managers have less in-person contact with remote employees, they may fail to notice that the team members are overworked or stressed out. They have to be aware of this risk and take proactive steps to make sure they’re preventing burnout before it becomes a real issue. We’ll suggest seven strategies for managers to follow.
1. Observe the workload
For an entrepreneur, who has a remote team, it’s extremely important to recognize the moment when an employee starts losing steam before burning out. Do you notice a drop in the daily performance? That usually means that the worker has too many tasks on his or her plate. It’s important to take action before things get serious and you lose the employee.
Give them a final deadline for the project, but don’t leave it there. Try to set daily and weekly milestones, which will still be flexible but will guide the workers towards progressive completion.
You’ll notice that some of them are completing more work in a really short period of time, while others are lagging behind, so try to balance things out. Tell the ones who are in a hurry that there’s more than enough time and that they don’t have to push themselves too hard. As for those who are procrastinating, motivate them to achieve the daily milestones by providing progressive payments based on the work they do.
When you notice that someone is doing less work than they used to, you have to catch the moment before a complete burnout. From that point on, you’ll have several options. We’ll discuss them in the tips that follow.
2. Organize your time
Instructions are very important if this is the first experience with remote work for some of your team members. You can provide your tips and instructions via email, but you can also schedule a Skype conference. To make sure your team members will have access to the tips whenever they need them, it’s best to provide them in the form of an eBook or a video they can access at all times.
Additionally, you can also encourage them to develop their routines and share your own experience with this to further reinforce such idea on them. If, for example, you’re used to a quick morning stretch, healthy breakfast, and working during your activity peaks, explain how that routine affects your productivity.
You can teach them how to make priorities as well. You see, procrastination is the ultimate risk for remote workers. It leads to a burnout since they are leaving too much work to complete shortly before the deadline. When they have a system of priorities and follow a schedule, they will avoid that pitfall.
3. Use the right project management tool
Managing a remote team requires a great deal of coordination. You have to delegate each task to the right worker and give them reasonable deadlines. You’ll need them to report back on the project’s progression, so you’ll keep track of the milestones.
When your workers have this type of system provided by a tool they use daily, they can finally focus. They will realize there’s more than enough time for each task, so they can now relax and keep up with their routine.
Trello is one of the best project management tools you can use. It will remind your workers of the deadlines and tasks, but it won’t stress them out. If you plan the project’s completion within a reasonable timeframe, no one will have too much work to do within a day.
4. Give them breaks
No one can work seven days a week without burning out. As a project manager, you have to recognize the fact that your workers need to get away and recharge. One day off per week is mandatory. A yearly vacation is mandatory, too.
Edwina Miles, an HR Manager at Resumes Planet, suggests, “If you notice that some of your remote workers haven’t used their right to a vacation, suggest for them to do so. In addition, a three-day weekend would be really useful now and then. Restoring breaks will go a long way towards preventing the effect of a work burnout.”
5. Talk to them
Remote workers need a support system, where they can share their impressions about the work and suggest improvements. Ask and listen! Employees usually tell their managers what they need to be more productive, but the employers rarely listen.
You should open up to their ideas. If they feel like they have too much work to complete in a day, consider hiring another team member. If they feel like they are not getting enough contact with the management, you have to be there for them more often. If they feel like the instructions are not clear enough, take some time to clarify. Do whatever it takes to make their work more enjoyable, so they won’t come to the point of a burnout.
6. Get them together
The lack of human interaction with coworkers is one of the biggest issues for a remote worker. Although they may still be with their families, they are still spending most of the day alone in their home office. Isolation leads to a burnout, since it makes the job boring. As a manager, you have to support the communication within the team.
If possible, get all workers together once a week. You can invite them for lunch, so they will develop a bond between each other. If it’s impossible to do this (remote workers are often located in different countries), focus on cultivating online communication. Create a Facebook group, where they will be able to start discussions, ask questions, help each other out, and simply hang out.
7. Recognize their efforts
They have to know the work they do is being appreciated. If an in-office employee is staying in the office late, you’ll pay for the extra hours, right? If a remote worker is spending more time on a project since the requirements impose that, you have to recognize their efforts, too.
Reward remote team members for a job well done. Give them bonuses whenever they complete an extra task that wasn’t predicted in their weekly schedule. Please remember that motivation is a crucial step towards preventing burnout.
Do not neglect the needs of your remote workers! Acknowledge the struggles they are going through and make their jobs as convenient as possible for them. It’s important to be proactive towards preventing burnout, so you’ll keep remote workers effective and motivated.
DISCLAIMER: This article expresses my own ideas and opinions. Any information I have shared are from sources that I believe to be reliable and accurate. I did not receive any financial compensation for writing this post, nor do I own any shares in any company I’ve mentioned. I encourage any reader to do their own diligent research first before making any investment decisions.
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