Finding Balance and Avoiding Burnout: How to Manage Remote Teams 

Breena Fain

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woman sitting in a home office

Though working remotely may have been a slow-growing trend before this year, the global pandemic has escalated this fairly new way of working. Even the most traditional of companies have had to adapt, implementing new infrastructure to support a dispersed team. It’s likely teams are feeling a bit fatigued at this point. There are only so many video calls you can take before needing to disconnect completely. Whether you are trying to prevent your team from burning out or everyone has already hit their wall, we have some ways you can restore balance and more easily start managing remote teams.

Here are some of the biggest challenges your team may be facing and how to cope with them:

People are feeling isolated and lonely

With most people isolated in their homes, it’s likely they are feeling disconnected from their colleagues. The casual time in between meetings to catch up on their weekends or the quick passing in the hallway to say hello – all of these little moments have disappeared. And it’s likely that many employees rely on that time to engage socially. Teammates need that personal engagement in order to build trust and communicate well with one another.

Though it’s tempting to organize virtual events in an effort to bring people together, the technology can often serve as a barrier. So replicating the real thing may end up feeling forced and inauthentic. With the majority of conversations conducted through video channels, they are likely getting burned out on virtual conversations in general.

Instead of hosting large team events, encourage individual employees to get together one-on-one with other colleagues via a Zoom call. Much like a virtual coffee chat, these more intimate settings can provide a chance to more deeply connect with people they work with. It’s also possible that you just won’t be able to give people what they need to feel connected. Many individuals need more in-person time with their family and friends for support. Recognize that work cannot provide everything your teammates need emotionally and develop a plan to integrate this within the work week. This could be a great opportunity to give them extra time to connect with their loved ones so they can replenish and come back to work feeling more refreshed.

 

Boundaries between work and personal lives are eroding

When your home becomes a makeshift office, it can be difficult to set boundaries between your work and personal life. The best way to address this is to have incredibly clear boundaries. Conduct a team or company-wide conversation around these expectations, and allow people to share what works best for them. Set healthy boundaries around when it’s okay to send emails or Slack messages.

If you’re outside of certain windows, be honest about whether you are expecting a response. Think about the signal it sends to your teammates when you send an email or text at 9pm on a Friday or over the weekend. These subtle areas of communication can be a breeding ground for resentment if people feel their time is being taken advantage of. Getting them right is key to managing remote teams. Allow people to set boundaries for themselves so they don’t feel pressured to constantly be “on”.

Everyone is responding to the changes differently

There’s so much uncertainty in the world, and each person is unique in how they deal with stress. Some may feel like diving more into work as a distraction and others may need more time for contemplation in order to be productive. If you’re a manager, make a point to check in with each person one-on-one, consistently. Start with one time per week, minimum. During this time, have an open conversation about what they need to feel supported. Communicate that during such unprecedented times, it’s okay to ask for what they need. Many people may feel insecure if they are struggling to keep up – collaborate with them on how they can continue doing great work while also feeling well-supported. Being mindful of this will help make managing remote teams a lot easier.

Consider dedicating a small budget to personal development or emotionally restorative courses like yoga or meditation. You could also attend one of our talks or company-specific programs. Bring in speakers and host sessions that can help provide people with more peace. This will not only allow for everyone to come together, but will also show that you are acknowledging the importance of self-care during this time.

There’s no way to sugarcoat it  – this time is extremely difficult. If you’re managing a team, it’s likely you are experiencing a bit of burnout yourself. Take time to restore and connect with those closest to you. Taking care of yourself and ensuring “your cup is full” is a prerequisite to supporting others because you can’t give from an empty cup. If you’re interested in developing a more consistent practice of self-reflection and looking to prevent burnout, subscribe to our below newsletter for more insight and tips.

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