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Breathe new life into teleworkers’ routines with these easy tips

Many employees are juggling work and life responsibilities and feel stuck in their personal Groundhog Day. As an employer, you can make a difference.

Woman with smart phone and reusable coffee cup walking in the cityInstead of a video call, opt for a meeting outside and encourage each participant to step outdoors for some fresh air (Getty Images/Riska)

In the early days of the pandemic, employees embraced the commute-free flexibility that remote work can bring. But, more than a year later, research from Statistics Canada shows many Canadians are working longer hours than they did pre-COVID at their place of employment.

“Many employees are stressed at the idea of not being at their computer at all times,” says Philippe Zinser, coach, HR consultant and speaker on organizational agility and innovation. “Due to their assumptions about how their manager will assess the work they do from home, they feel they have to work more.”

To break up the routine, here are four strategies employers can use to help employees gain some balance during the workday. 


Managers need to accept that teleworkers are not as fully available as they would be if you were able to walk over to their desk, says Zinser. Recognize the situation is different for each employee, as is their way of dealing with it.   

“What matters is whether an employee is meeting the company’s expectations in terms of results, taking into account who they are,” says Zinser. “Some have always been early risers, others less so; some take fewer breaks, others have children to look after. Encourage them to try something other than the 9 to 5, if that formula doesn’t work for them.”


According to a Statistics Canada survey, the biggest barrier to productivity cited by respondents was the lack of interaction with co-workers. And Zinser agrees. 

“[There’s] no more dropping in on a colleague at their office, running into another on the way to get coffee or taking a walk together at lunchtime.”

Recreating these moments of informal exchange—without making them mandatory—gives employees something to look forward to. “This could take the form of a virtual cafeteria, for example, which opens every day at 10 a.m., and where you can go for five or 10 minutes to see colleagues,” says Zinser. 


While work targets are expected to be met, it’s important for organizations to invest in “enriching employees,” as Zinser puts it, to keep them engaged and alert. A simple solution he recommends is hosting lunch and learn events on themes unrelated to work. That, he said, will encourage participation. 

“Ask employees what would interest them and suggest accessible topics: eating better, working out with what you have on hand, managing daily stress, being happy at work,” says Zinser. “You could also play games. The idea is to create an opportunity to interact without feeling judged.”


Videoconferencing fatigue is real, as discovered by researchers at the Stanford Virtual Human Interaction Lab. They identified four main causes, including excessive amounts of close-up eye contact and reduced mobility.

To combat the energy-depleting effects of videoconferencing, you can encourage people to take “audio only” breaks in order to move around, as they would during an in-person meeting. Alternatively, opt for a meeting outside and encourage each participant to step outdoors for some fresh air. (Another study by Stanford shows that, on average, a person’s creativity increases 60 per cent while walking.)

It’s also worth remembering that meetings are not problematic, if they are held for a set duration and have clearly outlined goals. As Zinser points out, “What you need to avoid is scheduling them back-to-back without any breaks.” 


Feeling overworked because your job is encroaching on your personal life? Here are 12 tips to help recalibrate. Also, read how teleworking remains a bittersweet experience for employers and employees, even though CPAs have adapted and learned from their experience.