I’ve been working from home for years, no problem. But working remotely during a pandemic? Oooooh boy. That’s a tough one.
Government-enforced solation, health-related concerns, a constant stream of negative news, plus the stress inherent to working from home, have combined to form a big mushroom cloud of anxiety. Due to those immediate modifications including isolating workers due to social distancing, existing stress have been magnified alongside the new ones that have popped up.
Many of the stress-busters we know from regular office life don’t apply to WFH, especially for workers new to the remote way of working—and the ones who never intended to work that way at all. Having experienced the overnight shift to fully-remote ourselves, we put together a 5-step guide to relieving stress for remote employees.
1. Readjust video call expectations
Zoom fatigue is a real problem, and we all suffer from it. Spending multiple hours in front of a webcam is even more exhausting than a face-to-face meeting since paying attention to body language, facial expressions, and tone through a webcam consumes much more energy. Check in regularly with your employees and make sure managers are being responsive to that feedback about call volume and evaluating those meetings. Allow employees to turn off their cameras and put themselves on mute when possible. Encourage them to be vocal about their feelings towards the number of calls. Remember, open communication is key while working remotely.
2. Encourage taking personal/vacation time
While many of your employees may have been forced to cancel summer plans, they still might need a break. Consider closing the office for a day or two to give employees a chance to go to the beach, to chill for a second, or just read books and drink wine all day. If closing the office is not an option, encourage employees to take vacation days in order to rest and relax. Working from home can turn into a work-around-the clock nightmare, with remote workers signing on for longer hours than their in-office counterparts. Keep your employees productive and sane by reminding them that time off isn’t just okay—it’s necessary.
3. Adapt communication practices for remote life
While probably most employees aren’t used to working from home, consider allowing employees to work flexible hours (instead of 9-5, for example, allow employees to choose an 8-hour window between 7:30 – 21:30). This new freedom can turn what was a scary transition into a great opportunity for growth.
Managing time while working remotely is a critical factor in employee’s productivity. Don’t hesitate to over-communicate. Break tasks down into the smallest pieces and encourage regular alignment check-ins. Trust employees to manage their workloads, but make it easy for them; encourage managers to set regular 1:1s with teammates and for teammates to be in touch with each other.
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4. Set up a plan
While working from home, it’s easy to feel like you’re drowning. Make sure everyone is aware of their responsibilities. Take some time at the beginning of the week and at the end of each day to review what you’re working on, how long it would take, and how to divide your time. Keep your social media check-ups for designated breaks.
Working without a strict plan while working remotely can lead to confusion and, eventually, stress. Make sure your people are aligned on tasks and each others’ roles. We suggest daily Slack/Teams check-ins where everyone shares what they’re working on that day.
5. It’s okay not to be at your peak right now
Don’t forget that this is a hard time and we’re still adjusting. Give yourself the time you need to work your best and find the right balance. Invest some free time for self-care and wellbeing. Working with a face mask on? We stan.
The changes that the pandemic has brought into our lives were quick and unexpected, but we are strong and there are so many ways to make it easy. You can beat stress. Don’t even worry about it. This will soon be a funny story to tell.