Avoiding Pandemic Related Burnout – Tips From Across the Seedcamp Nation

One of the biggest strengths of the Seedcamp Nation is the huge value that comes from founders helping other founders. Although we haven’t gathered in person in over a year, the impact of our community is tangible through the incredible products and services being deployed around the world and the insights and advice being shared between our founders in private. 

Every day founders have questions about logistical challenges, administrative concerns, and more. Questions like how to choose the best cloud hosting platform, legal experts, or tax consultants. But one of the biggest value adds is the human connection; the open, honest conversation about leadership challenges. The pandemic further unlocked the power of our community with the unexpected upside that our founders have doubled down on our online platform – Mobilize –  to strike up new points of connection, and engage in discussion. Having founders from across Europe and beyond, brilliantly varies the insights shared and one recent discussion on avoiding pandemic-related burnout was particularly insightful. 

It started on a ‘normal’ Monday when Matt Wardle, Founder & CTO of Kasko reached out to the Seedcamp Nation for help with proven strategies for combatting this burnout when leading your team. What followed was an outpouring of useful advice, resources, and ideas from across the Seedcamp community that were far too great to keep to ourselves. 

Therefore we present to you the Seedcamp Nation Burnout Prevention Guide, a collection of tools and methods to try out for yourself and with your team to ensure that you’re thriving in remote settings despite the pandemic. 

Special thanks to all of the Seedcamp Nation members who shared their experiences and contributed ideas. 

Managing Your Team 

In the UK alone, 4 in 5 (79%) workers have felt ‘close to burning out’ at some point in the last year and more than half (51%) of workers reported feeling guilty about taking annual leave.  It’s paramount to focus on high-risk individuals and pay particular attention to changing behaviours: negative thinking, loss of focus, and feelings of being overwhelmed.

  • Time Off – Remind your team to take their holidays. Although they may not be able to go anywhere, taking a break and removing work from the living space can do wonders. You may have to lead by example and set your out of office to give your team the confidence to do the same. Or why not give your team a Friday (or just an afternoon) off?  This can recharge batteries and boost morale, helping teams return to work incentivised and ready to build the best solutions the following Monday.   
  • Flexible Hours – It may not be possible for everyone, but asynchronous working can help maintain productivity. Making it clear within the team that it’s okay to have different work schedules among colleagues will alleviate some mental pressure for those who would benefit from it. Charlotte Guzzo, COO at Sano Genetics, encourages ‘people to book some time in their calendars for homeschooling or other personal commitments when needed’ helping the team. 
  • Workplace Resources – It’s important to recognise burnout affecting mental health and invest in protecting the mental well-being of your team. 
    • Calvin Benton, Founder of Spill – the mental health app – has created these intuitive guides on how to prevent employee burnout. The Spill app is a Slack integration that gives your team access to trained mental health professionals 
    • Ben provides flexible workplace benefits that can be redeemed while working from home and serves the needs of individual team members. They’re also another member of the Seedcamp Nation, and we’re such big fans that we’ve rolled out Ben cards among the Seedcamp core team. ]
  • No screen meetings – Encourage colleagues to take calls away from the screen from time to time if it does not require a presentation or group discussion. Some Zooms can be regular old phone calls!
  • Deep work – Another one of our founders introduced ‘silent office’ time: deep work coupled with co-working via Google Meet, where team members meet, share goals to achieve for the session, and then get down to it in silence. It has done wonders for focus and team connectedness. 
  • Deep Learning – Introduce lunch and learning sessions to talk about a skill/topic team members are passionate about inside or outside of day-to-day work. Doing so can be a great way to knit in new joiners and/or level up the team at the same time. 

Staying Social 

Finding ways to replace water cooler conversation can be tricky, and one aspect of office life that we all miss dearly is shooting the breeze about what’s hot and what’s not on Netflix and in the news. Our Office Manager Alexandra found that she shared a love of the Eames designer with our very own Partner, Tom Wilson.

Here’s a list of other tips, activities, and apps suggested by the Seedcamp Nation to keep the team connected beyond work:

  • Catch-Ups – The social variant of no-screen meetings, a special spin on catch-ups has been adopted by more than one company within the Seedcamp Nation and named ‘Walkie Talkies’.  These 30-minute voice-only chats work with at least 3 random team members and allow people to stretch their legs, take in some fresh air catch-up beyond their projects. 
  • Serendipity – bring back some workplace serendipity with randomly assigned virtual coffee chats to break down barriers and spur great conversations, helping team members relate as people and not just colleagues. The Donut app (Slack integration) does this really well. Don’t use Slack like the Seedcamp team? Write some code to assign some chats or do it the old-fashioned way and send a calendar invite to a new starter or someone you haven’t caught up with in a while!
  • Physical Activity keeping active will hugely benefit the team, doing it together will strengthen the sense of community among the team. Introducing a bit of competition can go a long way to getting people engaged beyond work. The breaks and activity will improve physical and mental health, likely improving creativity too. Apps such as Strava & Just Breathe are great for this. Check out this great article on the benefits of yoga and lessons on preventing burnout.
  • Celebrate – it’s easy to forget with so much going on but little intentions like birthday cards, anniversary gifts, socials around special occasions (celebrating wins, new joiners, product launches, calendar holidays, etc) make a big difference to team morale.
  • Game apps – to plan your next social
    • Among Us – a social deduction game like Mafia 
    • Escape Live Platform – dividing teams and solving puzzles together
    • Unlock – a hub for virtual team experiences including a ‘bar’ feature that randomly breaks you up into smaller groups and gives you 7mins to chat
    • Songlio – a music-guessing game that involves the whole team and only requires a pair of headphones. 

We’ll be adding more resources as we come across them, so watch this space.
(Updated Mar 2021)

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