Combating hybrid burnout is a process. Employers must recognise and understand why many of today’s employees are feeling more fatigued and burnt out than they may have done in previous years. There is an argument that employers should redesign the working model to adapt to a hybrid working environment.
The reality is that the future of work is moving towards a hybrid model. A study performed by Gartner of 227 HR executes revealed that only 1% of individuals within the survey expected their employees to work full time from the office once the pandemic ends. We are moving to a world where a hybrid working environment is an essential offering for employees.
Despite the fact that employees clearly want a hybrid working environment, there is an increased concern for employee wellbeing with this model as well. Why is this? There are several fundamental features of a hybrid model that can lead to an increased level of fatigue in the workforce.
Some examples of these fatigue-inducing features are:
- Virtual Overload: Due to the seamless experience of many people being online virtually both in their work lives and home lives with relatively little break, it can feel as though people are attached to their computers more than ever. With no distinction between the virtual world at work and at home, this is causing an overload for individuals.
- The feeling of constantly being in ‘work-mode’: Employees struggle to disconnect from work once the workday has completed.
- Digital distractions: Those working from home are more likely to be distracted by the digital world than those in the office (Instagram, Facebook etc.)
Let’s look at some concepts to help combat hybrid work burnout:
Not only are you at risk of burnout when working in a hybrid work environment, but you are also at risk of a reduction of activity. You’re no longer walking to work, or walking to go and get lunch every day. Instead, you’re often confined to the areas of your house. The reality is that burnout and inactivity are directly correlated.
A sedentary lifestyle negatively impacts your general health by affecting cardiovascular disease, obesity and depression. The reality is that we all need to move more, regardless of whether we’re in a hybrid work environment.
By increasing our physical activity, we can significantly reduce anxiety, increase energy levels, and improve sleeping patterns. You’ll also notice you are less achy, with reduced back and joint problems. While these may seem small, they can have a massive impact on your overall feeling of being burnt out. Changing your lifestyle outside work can help combat hybrid work burnout.
Stress is a natural part of being a human. Stress at its biological core is a human feeling to protect us from potential threats. Therefore, once that threat has passed, our body and emotions should return to normal. However, work stress is generally a very low level of stress over a prolonged period of time. This can have detrimental effects on our mental health over the long term and creep upon us.
When people feel anxious constantly, the stress hormone increases: this can make them feel anxious, depressed, becoming more irritable, have headaches, and have difficulty sleeping. The list does go on! Stress can also make underlying health problems worse, such as diabetes or blood pressure.
It can also lead to other factors which play into our general health. Many people turn to the fridge for food when they feel stressed or drink more alcohol. All of these things hurt our bodies and therefore lead to an increased feeling of being burnt out.
To avoid burnout, we must focus on ways to reduce stress: turning off your phone after 6pm, going for a walk daily, or meditating. Everyone has a unique method for reducing their stress levels. It is essential that employees also recognise this and work with their employees to help reduce stress levels. Open conversation with staff on how they are getting on should also help matters and allow you to understand their unique situations. Employees with flexible work hours can do more for themselves to combat hybrid work burnout.
The reality is that everyone in a hybrid work environment is different. We’re no longer working in the same office. Some may be working in a small one-bedroom apartment, while others work from their home office in their large house.
Some are working in a cold environment with poor heating, while others are very comfortable. Therefore employers must understand each individuals’ circumstance to work towards a reduction in their stress levels. This will inherently reduce the chances of hybrid work burnout.
Prioritise Communication – But Reduce Needless Communication
This is a double-edged sword and will often depend on the specific individual. At its simple core, all of us can be split into two categories of ‘introverts’ and ‘extroverts’. Some of us thrive on social interaction, while others do not. Therefore, some employees want to maintain as much communication as possible with staff members and will become burnt out if they cannot do that. Conversely, there will also be employees who will feel burnt out if they feel forced into social situations regularly.
It is up to the management of the company to determine each individual’s preferences and preferences for social interaction. ‘John’ may hate phone calls, while ‘Jane’ may love them, for example.
To recognise the signs of burnout, managers must keep an eye on their staff and see if there are any signs that an individual may be struggling. Keeping an open communication channel will allow employees to note areas that are not helping them adjust to a hybrid environment.
The key to working successfully in a hybrid environment and making sure employees are happy is simply treating people with respect and working with them to create a much better work environment.
When you recognise people’s specific requirements, wants and difficulties, and genuinely want to help them in these areas, you will see that they are generally happier and less likely to feel burned out. Flexibility and open communication are the core foundations of a thriving hybrid working environment at its core.