The Future of our Workplaces: Burnout in hybrid workforces

Burnout seems to be caused in two key ways when it comes to hybrid working. Firstly, the lack of direction and communication from an organisation regarding their hybrid working structures may cause significant stress for employees and subsequent burnout. Secondly, individuals may become burnt out by the intensity and pressures associated with remote working.

Let’s look at each of these in turn and explore how you may mitigate against burnout in each scenario:

McKinsey & Company found that, for many, burnout is caused by the anxiety of uncertainty around their hybrid working future. Read their full article here

A lack of clarity regarding hybrid working arrangements may lead to employees feeling burnt out and consequently reducing their job satisfaction, performance, and motivation to stay with their Employer.

The key to overcoming this thread of burnout seems to be COMMUNICATION.

Consider the following actions:

  1. Perhaps create a timeline and agenda for considering a hybrid working structure and share this with employees so they are aware that conversations are happening.
  1. Maybe allocate times to talk to employees about what they would like from the future of their workplace.
    McKinsey & Company surveyed employees hopes and fears for the future. Key trends from their research indicated that whilst employees are hopeful for a better work life balance and an increased focus on wellbeing, interestingly, for both on-site workers and remote workers, anxieties about these not being met were also clear.
  1. Communicate why decisions have been made not just what the decision is.
  1. Circulate policies which reflect the feedback from employees and outline clear guidelines for all aspects of your hybrid structure.
    McKinsey & Company found that employees expected policies on clear hours for collaboration with flexibility around these, robust virtual collaboration tools, a listening and response strategy, small-team connectivity events, documentation guidelines, digital training, and reimbursement for home-office setups.

In essence, high level communication, even if you are not able to provide a clear structure immediately for your organisation’s hybrid policy, may ensure employees feel connected and considered. This can lessen their anxiety about the unknown and thus improve their wellbeing, preventing burnout and boosting motivation and productivity.

The second key cause of burnout in hybrid workforces is that caused by employees’ approach to work when working remotely. The lack of a commute and distance between work and home life can cause significant strain on employees. Some may also work vastly longer hours when working from home due to anxiety around visibility and proving productivity.

See our blogs on visibility and productivity for some tips to alleviate these concerns.

To help promote a healthy remote working lifestyle consider the following:

  1. Optimising diary management and including scheduled daily reminders to take a break

Perhaps encourage employees to time-block their tasks for the day to help identify and schedule in advance time to take breaks in between tasks/meetings. Promote open conversation that taking a short break is a productive use of time.

  1. Creating structure and a routine

Setting aside transitional time and a routine before and after working hours may help accommodate for the lack of a commute and help create a distinction between work and home life. Small things can help with this as well such as encouraging workplace attire and creating a dedicated space for work to help set boundaries.

  1. Implementing a wellness strategy

This may include taking breaks and scheduling time for a 10-minute walk or stretch as discussed above or may encompass aspects such as weekly wellness catch ups.

You may wish to implement team challenges to encourage healthy working lifestyles such as competitions to reach a target number of steps daily or create a space to share healthy recipes.

Technology can also be utilised to facilitate a wellness strategy. For example, consider using Microsoft Viva’s ‘How are you feeling’ feedback button to get an anonymous indication of how your team is currently feeling.

You may also like to explore subscribing to ‘Headspace for work’ for your organisation to support your employees’ mental wellbeing.

  1. Encouraging conversation

Empower your employees to discuss the challenges they are facing. Are they experiencing zoom fatigue? Whilst on-camera conversation is great for visibility, it may not always be necessary and so perhaps be mindful of this. Talking about the challenges people are facing may not only promote a sense of community but also helps identity issues early on to prevent more severe costs of employee burnout.

Empowering employees to openly discuss and take time for their wellbeing may be one of the most significant developments in the future of our workplaces.

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