Most employees have been working from home in some capacity for over a year now, and many are starting to suffer work from home fatigue. Working from home can be exhausting and it is often shown with lack of productivity, low motivation, and technology fatigue—we’ve all heard the phrase “zoomed out” from people tired of endless Zoom calls! Covid-19 has completely changed the way we work, and many businesses and employees were unprepared for this. Many people believe that working from home is here to stay, so how do managers ensure that staff remain productive and motivated, and not fall victim to work from home fatigue? Schedule fewer meetings It can be tempting to schedule a lot of meetings to ensure everyone is kept up to date with projects and that no one feels left out or isolated. Sometimes, meetings for the sake of meetings can kill productivity and leave staff feeling burnt out. A meeting without a reason will only end up taking up employees’ precious time and put them under more pressure to complete the work in lesser time. Managers should only schedule essential meetings. If something could be communicated well in an email, or over an instant message, try using that instead of taking up valuable time for a meeting. This means that employees have their tasks in writing too, so they can easily refer back rather than having to recall one meeting out of the twenty they had that week. If you do need a meeting, make sure you have a clear agenda and that you stick to the decided time. Meetings that overrun are frustrating for every participant and can impact other activities that staff may have had planned. Repetitive meetings could be combined to ensure that all the information is shared, but staff have time to complete their tasks to the best of their ability too. With a hosted phone system, you can use instant messaging to contact colleagues directly on your phone system—cutting down the need for multiple video calls to share the same information. There are also features available on the online portal where your staff can share detailed notes on customer accounts, so employees have all the tools to collaborate without the need for lengthy meetings. Give the option of phone calls, rather than video calls Pre-COVID-19, most businesses preferred communicating with customers and clients over the phone. While video calls have their place, if workers are struggling with work from home fatigue, then giving the option to have phone calls rather than a video call can provide a good break and change of pace for workers. By using just the audio rather than a video, there are fewer distractions and it is easier to communicate and digest a message without being conscious of your surroundings or what you might look like that day! Phone calls take away the pressure on staff to look for non-verbal cues (the same way they would in person), which is much harder to pick up on over a video call. The conversation is also more natural when meetings are over the phone. With video calls, people tend to mute their mics when someone is speaking, this can often feel like you are speaking into a void. There are no verbal responses and waiting for people to unmute and speak up can be mentally tiring. A phone call ensures that you hear the other person respond and that it is a natural conversation. Encourage staff to take regular breaks With the lines between home and work blurred, it can be tempting for staff to work through their lunch breaks and try and catch up on their increased workload after hours. This can add to fatigue and increase the chances of burnout; as a manager, it is important to ensure that employees take their breaks to rest and refresh. Without breaks, it could seem that you are ‘on’ 24×7 and the work-life balance of your employees will be poor. As a manager, you don’t overload your staff with meetings back to back. Ensure that you take a look through your staff’s calendars before booking anything in to make sure they have a chance to take their lunch break and have regular breaks throughout the day. You can even help them manage their time. This would not only increase their productivity but also, their creativity and drive for work. Support workers by giving them all the equipment they need Lack of the right equipment can make it difficult for employees to work seamlessly from their homes. Slow computers, a faulty phone and other annoying technology failures can cause a lot of frustration for employees and can cause their productivity to drop significantly. When employees are fighting to get their work done despite poor equipment, they are much more likely to suffer from exhaustion and irritation. They are, after all, putting in much more effort than they would at the office. This can cause staff to disengage from their roles and they may put the minimum effort into their work as they don’t have the equipment they need to work to the best of their ability. By ensuring that workers have all the equipment they need, be it a good company laptop, headset or newer phone model, you are making it much easier for employees to do their jobs from home. Most people’s jobs are easier from the office, but by having the equipment at home it can be much simpler for them to do a great job for your customers. Another benefit of giving employees company equipment is that they are less tempted to use their personal time to continue working, feeding into our last point on ensuring that employees take breaks and separate home and work life. With the proper equipment, they can put their laptops away when they finish their shift and can pick up right where they left off. From a business perspective, this also reduces the chance of cyber attacks or security breaches from unsecured home laptops. Hosted phone systems work seamlessly on multiple devices, whether you give your staff mobile phones or laptops (or both) they can switch from device to device without dropping a call. They also have full access to your entire phone system on each device, meaning they can instant message colleagues, update customer information, make and receive calls and so much more right from the device of their preference. Hosted phone systems also connect to your CRM system, meaning you only have to input data once and it will be synchronized across your devices—perfect for ensuring information is readily available when employees are working remotely. Smart features make employees more productive Encouraging employees to make use of the amazing features of a cloud system will help increase productivity and reduce the fatigue of working from home. There are many ways in which you can utilise your phone system to help solve the issue of work from home fatigue, just a few of these are… Set your phone system to do not disturb Your employees can set their status to ‘do not disturb’ when they are completing important or time-sensitive tasks. This means that calls will either be routed to their voicemail (which is forwarded to their email address as a sound file for them to listen to and follow up later) or will be transferred to the next available operator. The ‘do not disturb’ function is a great way to ensure that staff can complete their tasks in a timely fashion, giving them dedicated time away from the phone to complete the important tasks. Let a virtual receptionist deal with your calls To stop employees from taking a call that’s not for them, you need a virtual receptionist added to your phone system. The virtual receptionist or IVR can ensure that calls are directed to the correct department the first time and that employees’ time is not taken up transferring calls that reached them by mistake. If employees are continuously dealing with calls on things they don’t know about, this can contribute to fatigue and make them much less productive.