It’s a well known fact that many workers want the ability to work remotely. In 2019, 71% of workers said they would quit their jobs if another employer offered them flexible scheduling, according to ExecuSearch. Still, some businesses hesitated to pursue this option for fear of change and less productivity. Now that the COVID-19 pandemic forced a majority of the workforce into quarantine, many businesses are seeing that working remotely saves time, money and resources. Many are deciding to stay remote permanently, even after the health threat subsides. Working from home has plenty of benefits in the right circumstances, but it also has the potential to accelerate burnout in every behavioral style. Burnout was a common problem in the workplace before the pandemic; one study from 2018 reported that almost 40 percent of workers surveyed were ready to quit their jobs because of burnout. That risk has only increased in current times; add on the economic difficulties, stress about health, and strain of social distancing, and then completely flip the day-to-day schedule by changing to remote work. You have the perfect recipe for burnout in 2020.
Don’t panic yet! The good news is that by focusing on the factors you can control, you will be able to improve your working environment and day-to-day experiences. Get ahead of burnout while working remotely by watching for these warning signs, for each behavioral style.
Direct Communicators (High D): Pushing Yourself Past Your Breaking Point
Direct communicators are known for their fast pace, task oriented work style, and ability to churn and burn. This fast pace is great for achieving tasks and setting goals, but it will eventually overwhelm you and your team without awareness in place. “I think Ds may be prone to not taking breaks, just powering through. They also may have such a sense of urgency that if they check emails when they are ‘off the clock’ they are likely to respond and start working right then,” said Favor Larson, a senior Business Development Consultant who herself has a 100 percent D score. “They may also possibly neglect the social side of work, since they are not in the office. They no longer have those ‘accidental’ run-ins with people, so they now may find their relationships fall to the side. They should be aware that they may end up feeling disconnected if they do not proactively reach out to connect socially.”
Solution: Tune In, but Log Off!
Pacing yourself might be harder than ever, but you need to slow down. Do this by scheduling breaks into your work day, reaching out to your team members to connect, and setting hard stops on your day. Don’t let yourself work past your regular sign off! If this is frustrating, just remember these boundaries are ensuring you can take care of yourself, your work, and your team. Keep that perspective in mind.
Reflective Communicators (Low D): Avoiding Conflict Creates Conflict
Reflective communicators are cooperative, lowkey and modest. In the best of times, they avoid confrontation and conflict, so right now, they are particularly challenged to speak up. The addition of more communication tools like instant messaging open up another avenue of misunderstanding, since conflict or disagreement can feel very personal to reflective communicators. Working from home makes initial conflict easy to avoid due to email and the lack of in-person communication, but that avoidance will cause problems down the road. Reflective people also might not feel heard in a virtual environment, and this disconnect will prevent helpful feedback.
Solution: Get Some Clarity
Reflective people need to speak up for themselves to prevent burnout. By taking that proactive first step, they can set up a better foundation of interaction. They can do this by having important conversations ‘in person’ as much as possible to avoid misunderstanding. Don’t be afraid to ask for further clarification at the end of the meeting— don’t let it end without getting the next step confirmed. Over-communication right now is ideal. If you’re a low D and want some tips about active listening and communication, check out our infographic. Another important part of staving off burnout for reflective communicators is to give themselves a break! Much of the conflict they are struggling with is likely imagined or exaggerated by their own anxieties. Being a little more direct will help this issue immensely, but low Ds need to make sure they aren’t too hard on themselves.