By simply taking a walk along the corridor and glancing at the rows of desks, it is easy to keep track of who is working where in the workplace. This is particularly useful in identifying those who may be at risk of overworking. Anybody who remains after the lights are switched off clearly wants to stay on. Similarly, those who require several cups of coffee to get through each board meeting are also identifiable. It is not only you who may be experiencing this; it is not uncommon for remote workers to be overworked.
It has been widely reported that over half of the American workforce have experienced feelings of overload and excessive workload at some point in their professional career. To compound the issue, staff are now expected to be contactable through email, messaging apps and social media for a minimum of 47 hours each week. This has added to the sense of pressure and exhaustion experienced by many employees.
If you wish to monitor the performance of your employees, then face-to-face supervision is an effective method. However, it can be difficult to identify when a remote worker is becoming overworked in such a situation. When communicating with somebody remotely, the potential signs of burnout may be easy to miss.
Acknowledging the potential for remote workers to become overworked and taking proactive steps to identify this and prevent it is a great starting point for any employer. Showing your remote staff that you value them is essential, as remote employees need to feel appreciated just as much as those in the office. This will help them stay dedicated, motivated and committed to their job, and help to ensure that you retain the best talent for your business. Maintaining a manageable workload for your remote team will require regular and open communication.
Here at Works, we are well aware of the importance of recruiting the most suitable remote employees for your business. If you wish to do so, please don’t hesitate to contact us and we will demonstrate our capabilities. An unmotivated worker can have a detrimental effect on productivity and this is as applicable to remote staff as it is to those who are on site.
Managing staff from a distance? Think about these tips.
Odd Hours of Work
It is important to keep an accurate record of the hours that remote workers are clocking in and out of the office each day. It is not necessary to be concerned about the exact time of day that the work is being completed. Most businesses now use a digital system for logging and tracking employee hours. At Works, we prefer to use Slack for any shift changes. Upon arrival, the staff must ensure they ‘clock in’ with the relevant personnel. It is equally important to ‘clock out’ before taking a break or going to lunch. One of the most effective methods of keeping track of time is to use a chat application, allowing quick messages and updates to be sent.
According to Zapier, there is an increased likelihood of employees working longer hours, a more intense work pace, interference between their work and home life, and in some cases, heightened levels of stress.
Time spent too much
As we previously discussed in our article which examined the untrue beliefs concerning remote working, employees who are based at home are not in danger of underperforming. It is true that they do not have a supervisor who is constantly looking over their shoulder. However, most people who work remotely can be at risk of working too much, as they do not have the same sense of closure when the working day ends. There is no need for them to clock in or out at the end of the day, or to bid their colleagues ‘goodbye’ as they leave the office. Although remote workers have the benefit of being able to decide their own working hours, it is advisable to have a discussion with them about their workload and schedule if they are dedicating more hours than are necessary.
Too Few Hours
It is common for remote workers who are overworked to not report their hours correctly, leading to an accumulation of tasks that they are unable to manage. This can cause a sense of anxiety and stress, and it is important that employers take proactive steps to address these issues. If a remote employee appears to be overwhelmed, it is essential to have an open dialogue in order to discuss their workload and make adjustments as necessary.
Lack of Teamwork Mentality
The behavior of a remote employee who is working excessive hours and is under pressure is another warning sign. Consider how they communicate with senior directors and the remainder of your team. To be successful, your remote worker should have the following attributes:
- Share frequent project updates, etc., with your team members.
- Participate in brainstorming, allotted tasks, and problem-solving
- Exhibit a cooperative spirit.
Recently, how have your remote staff members been feeling? Is it commonplace for blame to be assigned instead of explanations being provided when a project is behind schedule? Your remote worker might be feeling overwhelmed. Openly expressing their emotions is a key indication of this. Although it may be difficult to detect these signals with remote workers, it is not impossible.
As Awebb famously said, “A burden shared is a burden halved”. While many people who work from home enjoy the autonomy and independence that comes with telecommuting, it is essential to remember that support is available from colleagues who can help out when feeling overwhelmed. Without this support, telecommuters are likely to experience burnout due to the belief that they are solely responsible for carrying out all tasks. Research conducted by Harvard Business Review found that when employees were encouraged to maintain reasonable workloads, their organizations saw positive benefits.
It is important to reiterate the concept of breaking down tasks into manageable components. If you believe that any of your remote workers are attempting to take on too much, it is important to communicate this to them. For further advice on how to foster a sense of teamwork amongst your remote employees, please refer to our article entitled ‘Smells Like Team Spirit’.
There Has Been a Decline in Work Quality
At Works, we take immense pride in connecting businesses with the most capable remote workers. These employees are committed and always deliver results that exceed expectations. However, when their performance begins to decline, it’s usually an indication that they’re struggling to cope with the demands of remote working. One of the final signs to look out for when trying to identify remote worker overload is a drop in the quality of their work due to their stress levels.
Some may argue that there is no downside to a corporation having an employee work overtime. However, the opposite is true; if the remote worker is feeling overloaded, then the quality of their work will ultimately suffer, regardless of the number of extra hours they put in.
As Stated in Harvard Business review: The more you put in, the less you get out; if you overwork yourself, you’ll do dumb things for more worthless jobs.
As the supervisor of remote employees, it can take a period of adjustment for both the employee and the employer to settle into their new working relationship. It is your responsibility to assess the amount of work that each remote employee can manage, while they in turn consider their own workload abilities. Once the boundaries have been agreed upon, the situation usually becomes more harmonious. However, should an employee be overburdened, this can have an adverse effect on their productivity.
When feasible, try to avoid overburdening remote workers with excessive work. If there is a task that requires additional time and effort, it may be beneficial to temporarily stop other work and allow them to focus solely on the important project. Alternatively, you may decide to allot the workload among other employees so that no one person is responsible for all of it. Good communication with remote staff is essential to help prevent burnout.
As an employer of remote staff, it can be daunting to ensure that your employees are not overworked. However, it is important to remember that remote workers should be treated in the same way as any other employee and given the same considerations. To ensure that your remote workers are productive and in good mental health, it is vital to monitor the time they are logged in, ensure they are actively participating in business activities and discussions, and assess their output. Additionally, it is important to create an environment in which your remote workers feel comfortable discussing any issues or concerns they may have about their workload. Ultimately, two-way communication between employer and employee is key to maintaining the wellbeing and productivity of remote workers.
Get in touch with us now and we’ll help you get started with remote work so your company can join the hundreds that are already reaping the benefits.