A Guide to Manage Burnout and Build Team Resilience
There’s a fair gap between burnout and typical workplace stresses like looming deadlines. The latter can help drive productivity and creativity, but burning out can sap all the energy out of you for months to years. With much work moving online, we created this guide to help you support each other in a remote team setting. Especially if you’re a manager or any kind of leader in a team, you’ll find that there’s quite a bit you can do to set yourself and your coworkers up for long-term success and well-being.
Design meetings for a variety of work styles
What are your team’s ideal conditions for work? Dr. Sahar Youself, a UC Berkeley cognitive neuroscientist, encourages everyone to figure out their natural rhythms of mental performance throughout the day. What works better: uninterrupted chunks of time in the morning or afternoon sessions of work with intermittent breaks and group meetings?
“Most people I know don't have a workday anymore. They have these little pockets of time, between meetings and calls and answering emails, where they have 15 minutes here, 30 minutes here, 45 minutes there, and that’s their workday,” Dr. Yousef says.
Getting to know your team’s needs and different work and life circumstances can go a long way when setting up 1:1s or team meetings to optimize for productivity where it counts.
Better yet, include asynchronous communication when possible. We all already experience async work through emails and messages, but consider turning any weekly meetings into an async format. With more flexibility in response time, your teammates can stay in their work groove while also still providing quality updates within an expected timeline.
With meetings up 13% and workdays 8.2% longer for remote workers, as reported by Harvard Business School, cutting down on meetings can increase productivity and reduce the chance of burnout.
Make company information more accessible to employees
McKinsey reports that “employees spend 1.8 hours every day—9.3 hours per week, on average–searching and gathering information.” According to another report by the International Data Corporation, a “knowledge worker spends about 2.5 hours per day, or roughly 30% of the workday, searching for information.” There are other similar findings that make it clear: unsearchable, inaccessible data is a time-sink for your business.
With online onboarding, it can be confusing for new employees to orient themselves to important protocols and other resources in the company. Even once they adjust to the company, teams and processes continue to change and expand. Rapidly growing enterprise knowledge can challenge anyone in finding their way around projects and feeling on top of the chaos.
Searchable.ai designed Collections to solve this issue. With Collections, you and your team can centralize all your knowledge for any project or process. That way, you’re not waiting on others to send over a document or clicking around yourself to help a coworker who’s waiting for your direction. All the key information for a project is quickly accessible to everyone from just one screen.
Besides losing time clicking around, there are also threats to productivity that accompany digging for information. In a search for a document, you might encounter all sorts of notification pings and updates: incoming emails, Slack messages, LinkedIn updates, etc. Even if you don’t respond to the notifications, just the awareness of what you need to do later will weigh on your mind. The more you shift between unrelated tasks, the more your productivity takes a dip.
Studies show that when people repeatedly switch between complex tasks, it costs extra time to complete the tasks than if they were to focus on one at a time. The brain’s “executive control” processes need time for these two stages of any transition: to shift goals (“I want to do this task instead of that”) and to trigger the rules of the new task (“I’m turning off the rules of this previous task to start this other task”).
Sophie Leroy, an associate professor at the University of Washington, points out that juggling multiple tasks simultaneously can divide your attention in a way that reduces your performance. This “attention residue” ties up your cognitive resources so that you might be less efficient, less present when listening to others, and more easily overwhelmed overall.
According to a 2019 Workfront survey, the average U.S. worker is interrupted 13.7 times per day by digital services like social media and email. Multiply 13.7 by the time it takes to refocus your attention on the initial task. Multiply that by the number of people in your company. The minutes pile up.
When you focus on just one main task at a time, you reduce these costs to efficiency from context-switching. Searchable.ai’s knowledge platform unifies your data to keep your screen free of clutter. By connecting all your work accounts with Searchable.ai, you can search for anything from just one place and open only what you need. Collections also allow you and your whole team to organize key project information no matter where it lies. Access everything you need without bothering a coworker or being asked for something yourself.
Encourage clear workspace boundaries
Just as crucial as protected deep work time is our need for deep relaxation. Just as it takes time for our brain to transition into a flow state, it takes time for it to transition out of that state to relax and recover. Especially if you work at home, where the physical boundaries between work and home are murky, your brain can struggle with turning off your work brain state and transitioning to a state of true calmness.
Dr. Sahar Yousef explains in a podcast that “the biohack here is to create clean and clear work associations with certain things in your house when it’s time for work.”
If you have a table you use for work, try not to also watch Netflix there after the workday is over. Likewise, don’t bring your work computer to your bed, which needs to be honored as a sanctuary of rest.
Encourage your employees to survey the ways they might confuse their cognitive associations and to keep their workspace boundaries clear. Invest in their work-from-home setups and show them off on your socials as we did here.
You can turn around the challenges of remote teamwork with just a few small changes. Try out these tips for yourself and watch you and your team grow and thrive.