Removal of presenteeism and focus on wellbeing should steer remote management styles

This mistrust is driven by a lack of data

People working from home are facing burnout, Zoom fatigue, and a lack of work-life balance, thats according to leading workforce analytics company, ActiveOps.

This mistrust is driven by a lack of data, resulting in an inappropriate level of inclusion of remote employees that aren’t seen regularly in the office environment.

Managing remote employees has been one of the most significant challenges since work practices shifted because of the pandemic, particularly for businesses that did not already have hybrid or remote working policies. Despite home working being a norm for many organisations since 2020, managers are still worried about how to manage their employees correctly – and have suspicions that staff working from home aren’t working. This has resulted in employees becoming burnout, unproductive and exhausted from feeling like they are ‘always on duty.’

Zoom has become the easiest way of doing business for many companies in a post-pandemic world. It connected remote teams and ensured work continued as usual. Now, two years later, staff are Zoom-fatigued, and this is due to several factors.

Managers who are suspicious of their remote staff or don’t trust that they are working are using long, back-to-back Zoom meetings with many employers’ keen to ‘see’ their people at work. This inappropriate level of inclusion is not only unproductive but also leads to fatigue, a reluctance to have cameras on during meetings, and keeping people at their desks all day.

A recent survey by Cisco’s Webex shows that 80% of workers have physical ailments from video meetings, such as neck and shoulder pain, headaches, eyestrain, and a sore throat. The lack of movement between meetings can also be physically exhausting, damaging overall health and wellbeing. Cisco’s Webex survey also revealed that employees who turn their cameras on in meetings were happy in their job and with their employers, with 43% of those who use their video running all the time having no plans to leave their current roles.

To address these issues, managers must consider whether they would bring such large numbers of people together in an office environment. If managers have the right data available, they can cut back on frequent and unnecessary meetings and be better equipped to make informed decisions about who is working on what, rather than scheduling long catch-up meetings.

To support this, managers must also invest in the right technology to accurately measure their employees’ work. Not only for productivity but to ensure people take breaks, start and finish at appropriate times, and have space in the day when they are meeting-free.

With data-led solutions, managers can better understand how their team works. It’s confirmation that they are working and highlighting where improvements can be made so that everyone’s working day suits them. Managers must focus on creating the right balance between productivity, what’s suitable for employees and employers, and managing multiple work environments effectively.

Spencer O’Leary, CEO of the North American Division of ActiveOps, said: “The irony here is that working from home should give employees a sense of work-life balance, and the removal of ‘presenteeism’ that many people experienced when they worked in an office. Now, managers concerned about their remote employees are creating a virtual sense of ‘always on duty’ through back-to-back meetings and ‘camera on’ policies.
“There has been concern about the evolution of the office worker and how working indoors at a screen all day would negatively impact people’s health. Remote and hybrid work should mean that we can move away from that hypothetical future, as people have more time to prioritise their wellbeing. Still, managers don’t have the data they need to feel trust in their employees.

“For people to benefit from hybrid and remote working and having tools at their disposal to be more productive at work, they need the freedom and the trust from their managers to thrive truly.

“Businesses know how to retain good talent, visible in the job vacancies today. We see more and more hybrid job adverts. Employers can now pull the right data and secure the best talent with incentives. Businesses that invest in technology understand they can retain good staff, with the right tools and thus build their business model toward a brighter, healthier future.”