“In sickness and in health” does not apply here

I found this fascinating: “Last year in the U.K., the Office for National Statistics reported a record low in the number of days people were absent from work… the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, a trade body, found the overwhelming majority of respondents (84 per cent) had observed “presenteeism” — when people come to work when ill.”

Remote working has blurred the lines so much between work and home that people find it difficult to take time off. I mean, how can I justify time off when I can so easily log into a call with video off. I’m not infecting anyone.

Yet we also know that the longer we defer rest, the longer the recovery time, with a negative effect on our performance. 

Further, this article inferred that the weakening of bonds between people who never meet in person reduces the sense of social support and trust required to conclude that peers can cover my work and my boss will respect my need for rest.

Once again, we find that remote work makes it harder to disconnect. Disconnecting recharges our physical and emotional battery enabling us to navigate, negotiate and collaborate with our peers.

Watch for signs of burnout: 

  • Are people displaying typical emotions, or do they seem less happy, smiley, or jovial?
  • Are excuses increasing for low quality or late work?
  • Is the frequency and severity of conflict rising? Sighs, eyerolls, and huffs should be checked out in private if out of character.

Promote healthy separation between work and home:

  1. Designate a specific time when work ends and all work tech needs to be shut down.
  2. During meetings take time to reflect on accomplishments and inform the team they’ve earned a break for work well done.
  3. Gently follow up with those still working and emailing into late hours and ask them to take a break or defer messages until core work hours.
  4. Assign ‘off hours’ homework: “Tomorrow we want to hear what you did to escape work in the evening. Score extra points for the most mundane tasks!”
  5. Encourage the use of mental health days.

And finally, lead by example. If employees do not see leaders taking a break, they will fear being judged for ‘slacking off’. 

The lines between work and home are constantly blurring. Get out your ruler and draw some new ones.

Thoughtfully yours,
Jeff Skipper