Stress and burnout are severe issues for more than two-thirds of remote workers.
From increased loneliness, potential communication difficulties, and difficulty “unplugging” at the end of the workday, numerous things can make working remotely stressful.
In this blog, we dive into some of the unique stressors remote employees experience and share some of the best practices to reduce stress for your remote team.
The impact stress plays on remote workers
Several issues contribute to the elevated stress levels many remote workers experience. The following are some of the most influential factors.
Working more hours
Over half (53%) of remote workers say they work more hours than they did in an office, and 31% say they work “much more” from home than they did before. Many remote workers struggle to step away from their computers and avoid checking email after their workday officially ends. Over time, this lack of boundaries often creates extra stress.
Poor work-life balance
A lack of boundaries also contributes to a poor sense of work-life balance. It’s common for remote workers to feel that they’re always on the clock and must be available 24-7. This constant availability tends to cause additional stress and exhaustion.
Lack of emotional support
According to 48% of remote workers, a lack of emotional support contributes to their work-related stress. They don’t feel their managers, supervisors, or other leaders have their back or care about their well-being. These feelings can deter them from seeking help, leading to even more work-related stress.
Loneliness is another one of the most frequently cited remote work challenges. One study showed that the transition from full-time in-person work to full-time remote work increased loneliness by 67%, making it the most significant issue remote workers face.
Seventy percent of survey respondents also said that having a friend at work is the most critical aspect of a happy work life. Employees who don’t have positive relationships with their colleagues are less likely to enjoy their jobs and more likely to experience heightened stress.
Six best practices for reducing remote worker stress
If you manage a remote team, there’s a good chance your employees are dealing with at least one of the challenges mentioned above. What’s the best way to support them and reduce their risk of experiencing burnout? Start with the following best practices:
1. Check in often
Loneliness and a lack of emotional support from colleagues and bosses can increase stress and hinder employees’ engagement and productivity.
To combat these issues, check in with your remote workers regularly. Schedule one-on-one meetings to talk on the phone or via video chat and see how team members are doing, what they’re struggling with, and how you can help.
You may also want to distribute surveys regularly so employees can anonymously provide insight into their mental well-being.
2. Encourage more casual conversations
Another way to address the issue of loneliness is to create digital spaces for casual conversations among team members. A dedicated chat for off-topic or “water cooler” conversations lets people know you want them to communicate and build stronger relationships.
If you notice that people aren’t using the chat, jump in yourself and start conversations. You can also share a prompt or icebreaker question.
3. Respect boundaries and schedules
It can be hard to unplug for the day and create a balance between your work and personal life if your boss is constantly emailing you even after you’ve clocked out.
You might not mean to message your employees after hours. Especially if your team is spread across the globe, it’s easy to get confused by different time zones and accidentally message someone early in the morning or late at night.
Everyone makes mistakes. However, you should do your best to keep track of people’s time zones and avoid contacting them outside their designated work hours. If you do send a message outside those hours, include a note letting them know the issue isn’t urgent and they can get back to you when they’re back at their desk.
4. Prioritize clear communication
Clear communication can help employees feel more supported. It also combats confusion, which can create extra stress and frustration. Make an effort to be transparent with your expectations. When in doubt, over-communicate or over-explain what you want to be done, when you need a specific project finished, etc.
It helps to create a knowledge base for all your employee documents — training manuals, handbooks, etc. If everyone knows where to go to find critical information, it’ll be easier for them to find solutions and avoid misunderstandings.
5. Use the right tools
Technology has made it possible for people in different countries to work side by side (figuratively, of course) on the same project.
Make sure you’re using the right tools to communicate with your employees, set goals, assign tasks and monitor progress. Ensure everyone has access to the same programs and solutions as you, too, so nothing gets lost in translation.
6. Lead by example
To reduce stress and maintain mental health, your employees should take regular breaks, avoid consistently working extra hours and maintain clear boundaries. If you don’t do any of these things, your remote team members will likely follow suit. They might even assume that you want them to skip breaks and work overtime every day.
Lead by example. Be a good role model for your employees and encourage them to take care of their mental health by taking care of yours.
Avoid burnout and build a resilient remote team with Outstaffer
To promote better engagement and increase your remote team’s productivity, you need to help them combat stress and avoid exhaustion and burnout. Follow the guidelines discussed above to create a more supportive remote work environment.
At Outstaffer, we make it simple to find, hire, onboard and manage remote employees around the world compliantly. In addition, our #WorkFromAnywhere tools help empower your team to stay connected and thrive with solutions like Time & Attendance Tracking and VR Workplaces.
Want to learn more? Book your free demo today.