Team Working Too Much?
An unexpected consequence of employees working from home during the pandemic is that many worked longer hours than if they had been in the office. Fast Company reported that remote workers were working an additional three or four more hours per workday in April 2020. While we do not know if this trend has continued, we do know the price of overwork is often stress, burnout, and disengagement.
Our clients also tell us that employees are concerned about how their productivity will be perceived by their managers while they are working remotely.
The solution, we believe, resides with both managers and employees. Both have work to do if, as we expect, remote work options will become more of a standard for many organizations.
Managers need to check in with their employees to make sure that employees:
- Thoroughly understand the team goals and business priorities
- Plan and align their work with these priorities in mind
- Can identify obstacles that are getting in the way of their productivity
- Feel free to express when and how they may need extra support
These are important questions for managers to ask at any time but, according to management training program participants, they are especially crucial when team members are working remotely. And when they have answers to these questions, managers must be ready to provide their employees with coaching and training in how to better manage their time in order to focus on what matters most.
Employees, too, mustaccept some responsibility for achieving a balanced professional and personal life. They need to learn how to reach out if they are struggling. Regular 1×1 conversations with managers give employees the opportunity to check that they are meeting expectations and are focused on the activities that are best aligned with business priorities. Employees also should be accountable for good time management practices like avoiding distractions, being selective about which meetings to attend, and assigning a specific daily time slot for handling emails.
The Bottom Line
Long hours at work do not necessarily add up to greater productivity. Managers and employees alike have roles in seeing that the team is not overworked. Are you in close touch with your employees while they work remotely? Set up regular and frequent phone meetings so you can stay on top of any issues that would cause upset or disengagement. Is your team working too much? To learn more about how to ensure that they do not become disengaged, download the Top 10 Most Powerful Ways to Boost Employee Engagement