Covid-19 has impacted how we work
It’s no secret that the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted the majority, if not all, of our lives in some shape or form. The rollout of the vaccinations brings fresh hope of returning to some level of normality. However, there are expected to be some lasting effects, particularly when it comes to our working lives.
Since March 2020, employees have been adjusting to fully remote working and all the challenges that come with it, most noticeably the likelihood of employee burnout. Researcher Susan Bruce describes burnout to be when individuals experience too much stress for a prolonged period.
Remote working used to be considered a choice for some, allowing employees the flexibility and autonomy to choose to work from home some days and in the office other days; that was pre-pandemic. In March 2020, workers worldwide were forced home by health concerns or organisational policies leading to what is being referred to as the biggest shift of the modern era.
The changes to our working lives seem irreversible with the number of employees working from home expected to double to 37%! When we look at the benefits, it’s easy to see why many organisations favour this being a permanent shift, especially when remote work boosts productivity and cost savings by up to 24%, but that’s only the beginning! You can learn more about the other benefits in our breakdown The Future of Remote Working; the good, the bad and the ugly.
But it’s not all good news
Although there are benefits to having a remote office space, our research found that out of the 2800 people surveyed, 43.2% said that they were working more hours than in the standard office format. At a glance, this might seem like a benefit, but the reality is that people are struggling with getting the right rhythm when working remotely and succumbing to feeling like they are never leaving work.
Clare Kelliher and Deidre Anderson researched professional workers in 2010, finding that their participants also worked harder at home, which coincides with our results of 43.2% of people working more hours. Their research used the social exchange theory to conclude that remote working is perceived as a benefit and therefore, people feel obliged to work harder to repay this benefit.
Struggling to keep home life and work separate may lead to burnout. With record levels of daily stress and worry, it’s no wonder employee burnout levels have been at an all-time high since Covid-19, with fully remote workers more at risk of experiencing this downside than on-site workers.
Burnout has been a rising concern for many organisations even since before the pandemic, with some unwanted effects leading to low productivity, reduced staff engagement, more sick days and even damaging an organisation’s reputation, to name a few. Burnout has been on the radar since long before Covid-19, so it’s safe to assume that the effects of remote working are not entirely to blame for the significantly high numbers of burnt-out employees.
The cause of burnout is not universal but unique to each individual. That means different personalities are likely to find burnout triggered by different things because of who they are. For instance, those who score highly on Extraversion may feel burnt-out when the lack of ability to communicate and create bonds with their co-workers leads to not feeling supported by co-workers and leaves them feeling more alone. This can trigger more Extraverted people to feel stressed and worried about the lack of community within the workplace and where they fit in.
Likewise, those who score highly on Introversion may enjoy the autonomy that comes with working independently, so much so that they become too detached from the team, leading to a lack of communication and good ideas or feedback not being shared. The lack of collaboration and connection with colleagues can lead more Introverted people to work in isolation and take on too much work, causing them to feel overwhelmed and stressed.
So, how can understanding personality prevent burnout?
Here at Lumina Learning, we value different ways of being. We understand that different personalities will be in every organisation and encourage you to celebrate each individual’s unique value.
To support your team and prevent them from experiencing burnout, it’s worth understanding how their personality will affect what may trigger them into this state of mind, we cover 4 aspects of the Lumina Spark mandala below. You should do your best to combat this and cater to their personality to help them avoid burnout.
Working remotely can be a challenge for those who score highly on Extraversion because they are highly expressive and are energised by interacting with others; they may be at risk of feeling burnout when stuck operating behind the domains of a computer screen. Without fulfilling their sense of community, they may not feel supported in their work and feel lost and anxious.
To prevent burnout in more Extraverted people, you can reach out to them on Teams to check in with them throughout the day or even arrange a Zoom or Teams video call. They will benefit from recreating the face-to-face aspect where they can read your body language and social cues. By checking in with them, you are helping them feel supported and strengthening the bond you share with them, so they do not experience negative feelings of being alone and burnt-out.
Those who score highly on Introversion may seem as though they are coping with the move to working remotely as they can work well independently. However, these individuals are at risk of experiencing burnout when they become too detached and isolate themselves. Offer support on projects, as collaborating with them will decrease their workload, reduce their stress, and encourage them that although they can work independently, they don’t have to!
More Introverted people may not be as talkative in team meetings because they observe, and often contain their feelings. You can help them by scheduling one-on-one time to share ideas and feedback, whilst always making the chat box available to encourage thoughts to be shared as the meeting progresses; constant communication can help prevent burnout.
Those who score highly on Discipline Driven are natural planners and set very ambitious goals to work towards. The qualities that usually help them work effectively can be overplayed when working remotely, with no one around to notice that they need a break. Discipline Driven people may become workaholics in their attempt to work hard and meet their goals.
In the virtual workspace, Discipline Driven people can benefit from having their breaks and focus time scheduled in their calendar. This will allow them to have the structure they need, giving them time to stop and step away from their work whilst managing their workload and commitments.
Highly Inspiration Driven people may take the shift to remote working better than others as they are more flexible and adaptable. However, having increased autonomy can lead them to jump on to new opportunities and projects before completing existing tasks. Without someone checking in on their workload, they may quickly spiral out of control.
Encourage them to add gaps in their calendar to make time for new opportunities and plan to be spontaneous. Also, encourage them to take more breaks in between meetings, so they do not lose concentration and feel overwhelmed with too much information in one go. By helping them make time for their personalities to manage their days, they can work more effectively.
Our solution to help you manage and prevent team burnout
We have a range of products and solutions available to organisations to help you manage teams by celebrating your people, one human at a time. If you are not familiar with our world-class solutions, you may want to check out A Brief History of Lumina Learning; revolutionary personal development & selection assessments.
You will find that our product and solutions timeline begins with Lumina Spark, and we are proud to use this as a blueprint for our other products and solutions. With the ability to explore your whole personality across three different contexts, it’s ideal for organisations to adopt this into their Learning and Development when working remotely by assessing your Underlying, Everyday and Overextended Personas. The ability to predict how your behaviour may shift when you are in an Overextended state can help spot and prevent burnout in teams.
Sounds great, right? Well, we didn’t just stop there! We understand how tough it can be to work effectively when teams are experiencing burnout, so we have created the perfect solution to help you prevent this.
Journey to Composure is an extension of Lumina Spark and offers a practical five-step coaching exercise to help people remain composed under pressure and stress, supporting them to be more adaptable and resilient, especially when working remotely.
Step 1 – You are asked to identify an Overextension and what triggers this behaviour and its impact.
Step 2 – Stop. Pause. Shift your physical and mental state.
Step 3 – At this point, you will have the opportunity to select an effective quality to help you regain Composure
Step 4 – Select an effective quality to help you deal more effectively with the situation
Step 5 – Reflect and consider how to avoid this Overextension in the future
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