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Remote Culture 5 min read

Four Tips to Avoid Remote Work Burnout

Carolyn Noel photo

Written by Carolyn Noel

Communications Coordinator @ Galactic Fed

Dallin Porter photo

Expert reviewed by Dallin Porter

Marketing Director @ Galactic Fed

Published 20 Apr 2022

There are two types of remote workers. Those who work from 9 to 5 and those who work from 5-9.

When COVID-19 hit in 2020, close to 70% of full-time workers in the United States were forced to begin working remotely. Now, roughly 4.7 million people continue to work from home for at least half of the week.

Some people have embraced remote work and can’t imagine going back to an office, whereas others absolutely loathe the idea of answering emails and taking meetings from their couch. Why is this? It’s simple: Remote work, while desirable, takes discipline and without it, burnout is inevitable.

Working overtime, not taking breaks, answering Slack messages from your phone even when on PTO, and always feeling like you could be doing just one more thing (which, inevitably, leads to ten more things) are all ways employees could be putting themselves on the fast-track to burnout.

So how do you make sure that this doesn’t happen to yourself or your team? As a fully-remote company since its inception, we consider ourselves remote work pros at Galactic Fed and have identified some top tips to avoid burnout:

1. Set up designated breaks during the day

Taking breaks when working in an office is completely normal. There are the cliched watercooler chats, walks to grab lunch in town and even break rooms to eat, talk and take a few minutes to relax in.

Yet those who work remotely often think that they need to be permanently online until the day is over. Breaks are essential and, maybe even more so, as a remote worker.

Taking breaks can increase energy and motivation, improve problem-solving, renew focus and allow you to be more creative. It’s said that remote workers should be taking “a 5 minute break every 25 minutes followed by a 30 minute break every hour and a half” especially if you’re staring at screens all day.

Set these up in your calendar or put an alert in your phone so that you’re held accountable - and make it mandatory. Then, go outside, read a chapter of a book, make yourself lunch or even meditate. It’s more important to take care of yourself than it is to answer one last email. That can wait.

Man drinking coffee

2. Use your PTO (and then actually log off completely)

As an employee given designated time off, you should be taking it. Not letting it go to waste or taking that trip to the Bahamas, but then checking your phone the entire time you’re on the beach. Take the days off. Give yourself time to rest and relax completely so that you can come back to your job feeling even more ready to work.

And if you’re an employer, lead by example. Both myself and Irina Papuc, other co-owner of Galactic Fed, just used PTO to travel across Africa and be completely offline. Your employees may be more willing to take the days off if you show them that it’s okay.

Likewise, if you’re sick, take a sick day. According to a national poll, “7 in 10 of the remote workers surveyed said they’ve worked while feeling ill.” Chances are if you’re continuing to work while sick, the quality of your work is suffering. Your boss would rather you take the necessary days off to recover than put in low-quality work just to stay on the clock. Zero guilt required.

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3. Utilize different Slack channels for company bonding

At Galactic Fed, we utilize Slack channels for both work and play. It’s important to build bonds with other employees even in a fully-remote and distributed company. We have channels to talk about favorite books, movies, fitness, cooking and more.

Employees aren’t required to join the channels, but rather given the option and encouraged to join the ones that resonate with them.

This gives our team opportunities to chat with others about topics besides work and to even pick up some good suggestions and foster friendships along the way.

2 happy men looking at a laptop

4. Make yourself a reward system

A reward system is both a good way to keep track of your accomplishments and also a great way to keep you motivated. Did you finish a project ahead of time? Did you meet a sales or business goal? Celebrate these.

Order dinner from your favorite restaurant, buy yourself something you’ve been wanting or even call a friend you’ve been meaning to catch up with. And if you’re a manager or employer, make sure to continue to recognize and reward your workers virtually. It will make all the difference in both company morale and employee positivity.

Although it’s easy to feel isolated, stressed, and burnt out while working remotely, it’s also possible to feel incredibly supported, productive, and happy. Remote work has many benefits such as increased flexibility, no commute, ability to travel and work from anywhere, worldwide employees and colleagues that you wouldn’t have the opportunity to meet in-person, and more.

If you’re able to balance your time, give yourself grace, and remember to put your well-being first, your employees, colleagues and company will thrive.

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Carolyn Noel photo

Carolyn Noel

Communications Coordinator @ Galactic Fed