Hiring and Retention

How to prevent remote employees from virtual social burnout

From happy hours to birthday parties, we put so many activities on hold this year due to the pandemic, leaving employees with few opportunities to socialize during the workday. As teams began working away from the office, however, they figured out new and interesting ways to bring people together virtually. But in turn, some of those ideas left employees feeling stressed from social burnout amidst a barrage of work-related engagement obligations.

Finding the right balance can be hard. Here are four tips that can help your remote employees stay connected while avoiding social burnout.

Schedule optional social events

While in-person meetings can be exhausting, video calls may be even more taxing on the brain according to research detailed in a 2020 article from National Geographic®. When scheduling social activities on the same platforms used for team meetings, understand that employees may need a break from these tools after a long workday. You’ll also want to make sure to label social events as optional. This will reassure employees they are welcome to join but aren’t required.

Create an itinerary for meetings

Setting expectations early on can help your team manage their workload and spend less time focusing on things outside of their control. Before your next meeting, plan an itinerary with discussion topics and proposed takeaways. Employees will appreciate having a clear purpose and feel more valued knowing their time isn’t being wasted.

Have a larger group? Appointing a facilitator can keep your meeting on track by allowing them to ask questions from attendees or designate who should speak and when.

Take a break from the screen to avoid virtual social burnout

Just because remote workers have fewer opportunities to meet face-to-face, doesn’t mean everything has to be done over video chat. When possible, communicate updates via email and message apps or have team discussions over the phone. This will not only reduce the stress of appearing on camera, but it will also help employees limit their screen time and avoid fatigue. Your team should also take regular breaks throughout the day, so be sure to schedule gaps between meetings for this reason.

Find fun and creative ways to hang out

Team bonding exercises are essential for creating shared experiences and learning how to work together. But if remote employees feel forced to interact or “perform” during these activities, it can lead to resentment. To switch things up, ask your staff to submit photos of themselves, their families, or hobbies they enjoy. Then, instead of a virtual happy hour, incorporate new activities based on their interests, like online trivia, cooking classes, or fitness challenges, into your team’s routine—no laptop camera required.