8 Tips for Avoiding Staff Burnout

In a recent article published by CIO Magazine, leaders have had to get creative when managing teams from their home offices. Burnout is REAL. Especially if this is your first rodeo on a remote work situation.

Many do not understand the balance needed for the  PHYSICAL home environment, the company’s CULTURAL environment, and any Potential TECHNOLOGICAL issues. We went into detail on these topics in a previous blog article, found here.

Never before have the pros and cons of working from home become more obvious than in 2020, as the coronavirus initiated a mass exodus from corporate offices worldwide. The New Normal is something of a real-life Twilight Zone, whose effects on productivity, well-being, and other aspects bear watching.

While 63 percent of 20,000 employees surveyed by Lenovo in May say they feel more productive working from home (WFH), many cite reduced personal connections with colleagues, trouble balancing work and home life, and domestic distractions as downsides to #WFHlife.

“The distinction between work life and personal life is gone,” says Guardant Health CIO Kumud Kalia. “Things that seemed unprofessional six months ago are now seen as routine.”

CIOs who have seen the good, bad, and ugly of this new way of working offer their tips for keeping employees focused and productive during the work-from-home period. 

Be flexible

This WFH experiment is new for most workers, so show patience with staff struggling to balance being present for their families with getting work done, Guardant’s Kalia says. Recognize that kids are going to Zoombomb. Also, stress will elevate as parents prepare to send their children back to school for the first time in months. “There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to this,” Kalia says.

Facilitate regular communications

NetApp CIO Bill Miller checks in with his team regularly and asks that his direct reports do the same to offer support, help with challenges, and stay connected. This has elevated his IT staff’s relationships as they’ve worked through the challenges of working remotely. “We need human interaction and being mindful to make sure that happens is important to keep morale high,” Miller says. “We’re all in this together.”

The meeting before the meeting

Make meetings more meaningful by offering “pre-read” material through collaboration channels, giving each person time to share, says Miller. “This is something that didn’t always happen in a conference room because the biggest voices often dominated the conversation,” Miller says. This helps keep meetings shorter and productive, providing shy employees more comfort in sharing. That’s “bringing to light more ideas, more perspectives and deepening the feeling of inclusion and belonging,” Miller says.

Informalize, and mobilize, the meeting

Equifax CTO Bryson Koehler encourages individual staff to initiate impromptu video calls that last only about 5 minutes, a reprieve from the grind of back-to-back calls. “A five-minute video call replaces a hallway conversation,” Koehler says. “People are mentally exhausted, so we’re trying to be more thoughtful about meetings.”

Write once, read it tomorrow

Unless it’s an emergency, you don’t need to reply to that email late at night. “If I am shooting off emails at midnight, everyone else is going to feel like they need to do the same,” says CommScope CIO Karen Renner. “Work-life balance starts with the examples we set.”

Monitor workplace productivity

Burnout often presents as slow, insidious creeper rather than a histrionic breakdown. If the cadence of high-performing employees begins to bog down that could be a warning sign.

Land O’Lakes monitors employee productivity trends with Microsoft Workplace Analytics, which tracks anything from how engaged employees are through work devices, Microsoft Teams sessions and instant messages. With that data, Bekele can see whether staff are working longer hours and recommend time off and pursue a healthier work-life balance.

Facilitate family time fun

That work now happens at home means employees’ domestic lives will overlap, so encourage people to share more. Equifax staff share photos of how they’re unwinding and conduct family introductions. Staff at Land O’Lakes allot their children video conference time to show off their Lego creations. Guardant employees designate a time to read stories to colleagues’ children.

Mandate rest and relaxation

CommScope employees are incentivized to take all their vacation time each year to get refreshed and recharged regularly, Renner says. She adds that automated reminders in an email that remind staff to schedule time off regularly on their calendars.

Contact us if you need assistance in making sure your employees have what they need in their new work-from-home environment. From the data center to the desktop, D9 is your outsourced IT partner.

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