The only time a manager is allowed to inquire about how many hours you work is when they suspect you’re working too many hours.Sid Sijbrandij, co-founder and CEO, GitLab*
While striving for impact, burnout becomes a big risk for remote employees. Without institutionalized boundaries, people are left to create their own. And in some cases, those are neglected entirely. As Adam Grant and Reb Rebelle put it, “The road to exhaustion is often paved with good intentions.”* The unfortunate consequence of increased autonomy and self-regulation for remote workers is that sometimes people struggle to set their own boundaries due to a multitude of contributing factors, including tendencies like giver burnout, as Grant and Rebelle describe. Managers and employees can work together to:
Set boundaries. The burden for creating boundaries at work should not fall to employees alone. The steps that employees can take to protect themselves should be encouraged; but it’s far more important for managers to look out for signs employees may be working too much. It’s the responsibility of the employer to help their people establish the right boundaries. This isn’t heroic—it’s smart and sustainable. Employers can use specific constraints like a minimum vacation policy, a mandatory set of holidays to take off, and asking employees to block off non-work time on their shared calendars.*
Connect. Having personal connections with the people you work with not only improves the productivity of the team overall, it helps stave off loneliness and feelings of isolation. Connection can be fostered in ways both big and small, from chats in Slack and chit-chat before meetings, to virtual social hours, to full-blown, in-person retreats.
Share. Employers can model valuing mental health by talking about their own challenges, and supporting employees to reach out if feeling lonely or isolated.