FREDERICKSBURG, VA / ACCESSWIRE / April 16, 2021 / Covid didn’t invent remote work. But it thrust the pros-and cons-of telecommuting into the spotlight. In the earliest days of the 2020 pandemic, entire companies shifted their teams from in-person office spaces to virtual operations. Within weeks, reports began to emerge of how this major change was affecting workers’ mental health.
As it turns out, being compelled to work from home full-time can cause serious stress. Gallup noted this fact after exploring vast amounts of data. In the first few months of coronavirus’ spread, remote worker burnout vaulted nine percentage points. At the same time, burnout among employees who didn’t have to work from home experienced a four-point drop. In other words, people who pivoted fast went into an emotional tailspin; those whose daily lives changed less fared better.
What makes remote work so psychologically challenging, especially under lockdown conditions? The uptick in communications certainly plays a part. Under normal circumstances, workers collaborate spontaneously. They visit the water cooler. They stop by each other’s cubicles. They chitchat in the bathroom. When they’re divided by miles, they must make special efforts to connect, which can be time-consuming and downright exhausting.
Case in point: One recent National Bureau of Economic Research paper showed an upswing in remote meeting frequency and duration. On average, virtual staffers logged around 48 more minutes each workday than when they worked in a traditional setting. Is it any wonder, then, that research spearheaded by Twingate showed 40% of remote employees felt drained by constant videoconferencing?
Another issue chipping away at remote worker enjoyment is the sheer isolation of being at home 24/7. Not everyone has the personality (or desire) to revel in making decisions without immediate input or spend a day solo. Some individuals need constant social support and encouragement-and may figuratively wither without it.
Moving forward, many companies aren’t sure that their remote teams will ever return to being fully onsite. Some organizations are going virtual for the foreseeable future. Consequently, leaders can’t afford to ignore the reality that telecommuting can be mentally taxing on their people. The majority of employers know this, of course. Figures from Kronos note 95% of corporations cite burnout as a destroyer of productivity and engagement. This underscores the need for cross-departmental behavioral and managerial training that helps supervisors and employees avoid telecommuting pitfalls.
Smart ways to chip away at remote worker burnout
It’s not feasible to assume that remote work will wane or that telecommuters will figure out how to survive on their own. Rather, employers need to work with knowledgeable partners and experts to educate workers on how to thrive remotely. That way, workers can discover and implement strategies to stave off stress and improve their employee experience.
Pathways has emerged throughout the Covid crisis as one of the pacesetters among providers of these types of timely programs. Their Pathways at Work program offers workshops, courses, and coaching that center on behavioral health topics, including reducing anxieties related to virtual working. Specifically, Pathways’ COVID-19 Series provides participants with real-world coping skills needed to lessen telecommuting’s negative impacts.
Offered across five different webinar series to accommodate all employees regardless of location, Pathways at Work COVID-19 programming covers a myriad of topics. Some topics may seem unrelated to working at first glance: self-destructive behavioral choices, loneliness, dealing with family. Yet each one has the power to contribute to a remote worker’s happiness or discontent.
For example, a telecommuter may struggle to balance corporate and familial needs. It’s difficult to concentrate on spreadsheets when young children are frustrated by their online learning platforms. Trying to straddle the fence of simultaneously being an outstanding parent and team member can produce anxiety and frustration. To be sure, it’s an impossible task. Still, many workers will sacrifice self-care to save face or live up to unrealistic expectations.
Pathways at Work curriculum focuses on understanding and fostering healthier coping mechanisms, as well as letting go of superhero expectations and tendencies. By presenting actionable advice, Pathways’ experts empower remote workers and their leaders to make bolder, better choices. This, in turn, helps employees take charge of their daily routines, which can be a first step toward reversing burnout.
Less stress for employees, more efficiency for employers
Programs like the courses offered through Pathways at Work and, if desired, follow-up private team mentoring offer multifaceted benefits and improvements to employee mental and behavioral wellness.When team members apply proven tools to alleviate their stressors, they’re less likely to exhibit presenteeism or leave their company. This assists in keeping corporate turnover low and morale high. Additionally, having more confident workers can move productivity and customer service levels closer to record-high levels.
Though reversing remote work-related anxieties can’t and won’t happen overnight, it’s an achievable goal. Like any problem, the overarching solution begins by naming and acknowledging the core issue. In this case, it’s the downsides to remote working en masse. Leaders willing to accept the limitations of telecommuting can begin to remove barriers to virtual working success. The result? They’ll have happier team members who control their agendas rather than feel swamped by an endless to-do list.
SOURCE: Pathways at Work