By Kahl Orr, the founder of To get upa digital marketing agency that builds high performing websites for some of the fastest growing brands.
The golden age of office work sits steadfastly in our collective rearview mirror.
Many office workers feel that this much-anticipated social experiment is paying off in terms of better work-life balance and increased productivity. However, it is management that feels the pinch in an endless purgatory loop of hand-me-down brooding over output and backlash from employees who no longer see the value in returning to the way things were.
A recent future forum questionnaire (download required), conducted in August 2022, found that burnout rose to 40% globally in the last quarter, with middle managers of enterprise-level companies citing the highest levels of stress and anxiety. Team leaders are likely to become exhausted from managing dispersed forces in a changing landscape and desire to return to the office, despite the growth trajectory of remote and hybrid work.
Those days are probably over for those who suffer, but your mental health need not be affected by this. If you’re constantly questioning your effectiveness in managing remote teams and feeling markedly less bound by common sense than you were three years ago, there’s hope.
As an agency remote long before the global pandemic, Rise built a team environment that can last And flourish in these working conditions. If the past few years have been a mess of chaos shifting to the new work landscape, rest assured: it is possible to stay productive as a remote team and stay sane in the process.
Flex your muscles at a distance
When Covid-19 hit, most leaders had to quickly transition to unfamiliar work dynamics with no prior training. It’s no wonder the number of burnouts has risen. Remote management is a skill like anything else. To excel, it is essential to practice.
2020 was a good year for us. We were prepared because we were completely remote years before the pandemic. This is how we’ve operated since our inception, seeing nothing but extraordinary growth and opportunity every step of the way. We’ve embraced the idea that remote work can be a company’s “good bones” rather than an inconvenient necessity forced upon us in post-pandemic life.
That’s not to say it’s easy; nothing worth doing is. However, battle can lead to magic. You need to apply the same mindset that takes you to the gym: the obstacle is the way. No one gets that ripped summer body without the grind. The same goes for our work. The ability to make yourself do hard things, no matter how mean the task, will ultimately strengthen your skills. Eventually, whatever is problematic will become part of the journey and you will no longer have that fearful response to chaos.
As Ryan Holiday said The obstacle is the road“It’s okay to be discouraged. It’s not okay to quit. Knowing you want to quit, but stand your ground and get closer and closer until you’ve taken the impenetrable fortress in your own life that you’ve decided to besiege— that’s persistence.”
Release The Old-Guard View
Another key finding from the Future Forum survey is that 60% of executives design their human resource policies with little to no direct input from employees. Furthermore, 38% of executives prefer to work in the office three to four days a week. However, that is not the experience of many office workers. The study found that individual contributors made progress in several areas, including an 11% year-over-year improvement in work-life balance, a 12% increase in job satisfaction and, amazingly, a 25% increase fewer stress and anxiety.
This tells me that leaders are developing policies based on outdated ideas that no longer serve them in a virtual business world, while not gathering feedback from those most affected. There is still a strong leadership culture at many companies that worships the traditional office format that doesn’t fit with the evolution of work.
At Rise, we have never functioned as a traditional corporate structure. That’s what makes us unique. We are not bound by a 9-to-5 ideology. By maintaining this flexible foundation, we have become a more forward-thinking, inclusive workplace and have provided the company with an adaptable framework to grow without typical constraints.
With the remote work revolution and the ongoing battle to acquire and retain talent, adapting is essential. Let go of these old-fashioned mores of how a company should operate and invite your employees into the discussion about creating new policies that work for everyone.
Build your culture with engagement
Gallup data suggests that employees who feel connected at work because they have maintained relationships with their colleagues perform better. This is especially true for isolated WFH employees. As productive as remote workers are, there are still risks associated with this lifestyle that leaders can help alleviate through relationship building. Having work friends can foster a sense of belonging, making them feel more invested and focused on their tasks.
According to Gallup’s data, “Having a best friend at work is strongly linked to business outcomes, including profitability, safety, inventory management and retention.”
We strategically design opportunities to build community. Since we’ve never had an office space to encourage that natural exchange, we’re hypervigilant about structuring times to facilitate connection. Like us, consider running quarterly outings, check-ins, and icebreakers on calls and Slack channels to drive engagement. You can also hire an HR manager to implement communication initiatives.
In addition, it is just as important to take care of yourself as you do your employees. You can’t build culture just for the sake of bottom line. You also have to participate in it to reap the benefits.
Burnout seems to be prevailing in an evolving workspace as companies try to cope with the new normal. The skills that once served us in a typical office environment must now also evolve. Employees can make great strides by working from home. However, managers must release what has worked for them in the past and embrace these new challenges.
Remote leadership requires intentionality. It is a mentality game and requires perseverance. That mindset includes passion and perseverance for long-term and meaningful goals. By being open to flexibility and leading with emotional intelligence, you can overcome the fatigue of managing your team from a distance.