11 Creative Ways to Beat Remote Work Fatigue
A study earlier this year by McKinsey revealed that 58% of American workers indicate they can work from home at least one day a week. 35% of them said they have an option to work from home five days a week. These professionals are entrepreneurs, small business owners, and workers for large enterprises, among others and from various industry sectors—finance, professional services, legal, healthcare, and insurance.
Even as the pandemic waned, the number of job listings with a remote component remained high. Data from late last year, for example, showed that the number of new positions with remote work as an option were about triple the number before the pandemic hit. The number of Americans working from home by 2025 is expected to hit 36.2 million, or 22% of the overall workforce.
Upsides of Remote Work
According to Gallup, the majority of workers want to stay remote. Only 6% of workers whose jobs can be remote prefer total on-site work. Around half of professionals who work from home today—at least some of the time—indicate they would resign before going back to a permanent office five days a week. Another 20% to 30% of workers say they would take a pay cut in exchange for working remotely.
Reasons for such a groundswell around remote is multifaceted. For anyone who has lived and worked in a large metropolitan area, the commute to and from a permanent office can be a killer; it literally can add up to 15 or more hours per week that is wasted sitting in traffic and/or riding trains or buses. Beyond cost and negative impact on the community and environment, this adds up to time spent away from exercising, spouses and partners, family, and friends. In addition, needing to work from an office five days a week, eight or more hours a day is problematic for anyone with kids in school or elderly parents or family members who require care.
Downsides of Remote Work
Despite all of the pros about remote work, there are some downsides. Research shows that social contact and engagement are important, and the lack of such in remote work scenarios creates feelings of isolation and loneliness. One-quarter of adults in the U.S. said they felt lonely or socially isolated before the pandemic, and this has become even worse over the past couple years. This is exacerbated by a never-ending onslaught of emails, instant messages, and video meetings. Two-thirds of remote workers admit to feelings of tech fatigue—feeling physically tired and stressed by technology use.
There are some creative ways that workers can beat remote work fatigue. This is good news for professionals working from home and for businesses with work-from-home employees. Following is some of the most prevalent recommendations:
1. Configure Your Workspace for Optimal Outcomes
If your remote workspace isn’t conducive for productive, focused work, then you’re likely to feel fatigue over time. You need to find the right desk and chair; ergonomics is crucial. It also needs to be a dedicated space to ensure work and home life remain separate. In many instances, a sit-stand desk helps one sustain momentum throughout the day while relieving stress on your back.
2. Get Together with Your Team Periodically
Few remote workers can work every day from their home office. They get lonely and fatigue sets in. Getting together with your team periodically for social activities breaks up that monotony—dinner, drinks, bowling, and other activities. It might be every couple weeks or once a month. But these opportunities to unplug and spend time together socially are important. Informal social interactions provide remote workers with social capital when collaborating with others and negotiating work agreements.
3. Work from a Coworking Space
Coworking spaces give remote workers an option for hybrid work, even when their corporate office is thousands of miles away. Coworking spaces, such as those that you can find through Davinci Meeting Rooms, are full of other professionals with whom remote workers can network and ideate. Even if you work from a coworking space a couple times each month, doing so gives you a chance to nurture and build your professional network, brainstorm on problem-solving, and more. You can also book conference rooms to meet with other team members, customers, prospects, and partners.
4. Socialize During Work
When working remote, workers don’t have a chance to bump into a colleague, sit and chat with colleagues when having lunch in the breakroom, or telling someone hello when walking down the hallway. Without these typical in-person social interactions, remote workers need to search out opportunities for virtual socialization. A few ideas include:
• Sharing photos of pets, family, vacations, and food
• Playing online games
• Taking a virtual coffee break with a colleague
• Asking icebreaker questions during meetings
• Simply telling someone hello online
5. Set Aside Breaks During the Day
Logging off and stepping away from your computer and desk a few times during the day is important. You can build these breaks into your schedule. It might be 15 minutes for a walk with the dog or your spouse, a quick run or workout, or a quick trip to pick up a coffee at a local coffee shop.
6. Use Project Management Tools
Managing projects for a 100% in-person workforce is difficult enough. It can be even more difficult for remote teams. There are a number of cloud-based project management tools that help ensure teams and individuals remain on schedule and nothing falls through the cracks. Everyone knows exactly what is assigned to them, what due dates look like, and the status of projects.
7. Include Career Development
Remote workers often do not have the same career development opportunities as those who work in-person. You may need to look for local mentors (perhaps someone working from the same coworking space), search for training opportunities, and attend different events. For remote workers and businesses that leverage coworking space, you can even talk to other professionals and businesses in the same coworking space and collaborate with them to develop and fund training and development opportunities for the larger coworking space.
8. Establish Boundaries Between Work and Home
One of the problems remote workers often cite is that the boundaries between work and home begin to collapse. Home situations encroach on work and vice versa. This leads to fatigue. Signs this is happening include when the time you set aside to spend exercising diminishes because you’re working late into the evening or the time with your spouse and family shrinks or disappears because of work commitments.
9. Get Some Exercise
Individuals who take time from work to exercise are not only healthier and happier but more productive, manage their time better, and feel more satisfied about their jobs when they are working.
10. Reassess Your Meeting Attendance
Professionals often list meetings as the biggest drag on their workday, finding that the majority of meetings are a waste of time. Just like their counterparts who work from a permanent workspace five days week, remote workers need to reassess their meeting attendance to ensure their attendance adds value. In instances where remote workers are managing a meeting, then need to ensure that meeting logistics are sorted beforehand—from meeting prep to the actual execution of the meeting.
11. Leverage Time Off
Remote workers need to take planned paid time off (PTO). All of it doesn’t need to be used for organized vacation trips. Sometimes, it might simply be a day you spend working around the house and spending time with your spouse, family, and friends. Businesses need to ensure their remote workers feel comfortable in exercising their PTO.
Counteracting Remote Work Fatigue to Capitalize on the Full Benefits of Remote Work
Remote work offers professionals an immense number of opportunities. They can jettison hours and hours spent commuting each week, they can spend more time with spouses, family, and friends, and they can gain better work-life balance. But some encounter remote work fatigue, which can become a drag on productivity, happiness, and even health. The upside is that there are various actions that businesses and remote workers can take to counter remote work fatigue.