So working from home for two months got turned into four months and we still are not certain that how long it is going to be.
With the coronavirus pandemic causing millions to work from home for the first time, work from home (WFH) productivity is on everyone’s mind. But what really should be the concern in this unprecedented situation is a longer-term risk which is employee burnout.
The lines between work and non-work were already blurred before the current situation. But they’re almost non-existent when your office is your home now.
Some Data & Facts
Burnout can be brought on in a number of ways, but three of the biggest contributing factors are exhaustion, cynicism and inefficacy inr your job. As it turns out, burnout is more common than you might think.
One of the studies conducted by TollFreeForwarding states that:
· Over a third (36 percent) of respondents said they suffer from burnout every week. This manifests in anxiety (40 percent), exhaustion (44 percent) and stress (56 percent)
· Over a third (34 percent) of employees take sick days at least every six months due to burnout
· Over half (55 percent) have considered leaving their job due to lack of support for burnout
“With the suddenness and degree of the shift to remote work, the loss of childcare, and all of the worries that accompany the pandemic and its economic fallout, all of the things that typically cause burnout are intensified, which means the risk of burnout is intensified,” said Vanessa K. Bohns, associate professor of organizational behavior at Cornell University.
Signs of Burnout to watch out for-
1. You find yourself working around the clock. You never switch off. You are checking your mails late at night, or first thing when you wake up. Weekends are like any other day.
2. You procrastinate now more than ever. Putting off tasks, not raking decisions.
3. You feel like you have no one to whom you can turn when things go south. Inability to voice your concerns to your manager for fear of native repercussions. Inability to share at home for fear of inducing panic.
4. You feel an overarching anxiety to do more
5. You’re allowing meetings to run well past their delineated time blocks. This eats into other priorities leaving you over whelmed.
6. You stop “adulting” altogether. Stopping to spend quality time with people around you, unwinding, having a house party just with family, listening to music, carving out time for yourself.
As Laura M. George writes in Harvard Business Review:
“Many employees who are working remotely for the first time are likely to struggle to preserve healthy boundaries between their professional and personal lives. To signal their loyalty, devotion, and productivity, they may feel they have to work all the time.”
Ways to protect yourself from WFH burnout
We need a new way to think about how to disconnect and avoid WFH burnout. Here are a few suggestions to help you get started.
1.Create a dedicated space for your work: While a lot of that has to do when and how much you work, it also has to do with where you work. You don’t necessarily need to have a separate room but you need to have a dedicated workspace that lets you walk away at the end of the day.
Also if you have kids at house this technique helps you to create boundaries with them. Set up a system to let them know when it’s ok to visit or when you need time to focus.
2. Start and end your day by specific rituals: Always start your day with some ritual like having a shower and getting dressed up or maybe having a cup of coffee and making your to-do list. Also try to end your day with another ritual like Close all browsers tabs and clean up your desktop and put your laptop away. These rituals will help you to move between the different “states” of your day and actually focus on what’s in front of you.
3. Prioritize Work—Busy doesn’t necessarily mean productive. It’s essential to work on tasks that are important. While working from home, employees often feel compelled to project the appearance of productivity, but this can lead them to work on tasks that are more immediate instead of more important. By tackling the most urgent tasks first thing in the morning, you’ll feel more accomplished and less stressed throughout the rest of the day. This positive, productive mindset is the key to avoiding WFH burnout.
4. Keep the meetings brief: Longmeetings that “could have been an email” have long been a top complaint of workers. Bring mindfulness to the virtual meetings now, whether that means actually hosting a virtual stand-up meeting, or just coming in with a clear agenda and designated timekeeper.
5. Get dressed up for work: Working in your pyjamas isn’t the best idea. Although people believe such comfort and relaxation could boost productivity, this practice can actually do the opposite for some. Working in your pyjamas promotes lethargy and makes it difficult for your mind to differentiate between working hours and relaxing hours. Instead, try getting dressed for work and changing out of your work clothes once you’re done with your tasks for the day. We don’t mean a suit and tie — just proper clothing and maybe a good head of brushed hair!
6. Set realistic goals and track your progress: The more clearly you can see the positive progress you make each day, the less likely you’ll be to overwork and hit WFH burnout. Researchers have found that the most important factor for feeling accomplished and happy at the end of the day is seeing real progress on meaningful work.
7. Keep your days fresh & interesting: Staying at home for so long can put a general drag on your mood. Such unhappiness and boredom could definitely translate to WFH burnout. Keep your days fresh and exciting, by breaking up daily routines with interesting moments. Try cooking a new recipe or maybe or some family fun activity like movie night. Actually you may use this quarantine period as an opportunity to upgrade yourself and to achieve goals you’ve been putting off. Introduce a workout schedule for instance, or earmark some time to tend to your house plants or garden. Even adopting a stray cat. Lockdown has given us umpteen opportunities to try out different things and stay with what excites you.
8. Seek support: Hiding your concerns will only make them worse. If you’re feeling burned out, tell your boss and coworkers as early as possible. They can collaborate with you to redistribute your workload, update reporting rituals to provide more recognition and motivation, or provide sideline encouragement as you bust through blocks. Speak to your spouse, sibling, friend. Vent it out. If needed, seek professional help. Telemedicine is just a phone call away.
9. Give yourself a break: Give yourself the virtual time off, No matter how stellar your home office setup, everyone’s eyes need a break from all that screen time. Between meetings, get up and get out if possible. Taking breaks at regular intervals will help you to recharge before the next call appointment and allow for extra planning so the next interaction goes as effortlessly as the last one. An effective break should include moving around to get your blood flowing and introduce a change of scenery. Talk to your family members, quickly whip up a salad or just take a power nap. Take leave if needed. Work from home and being unable to go on vacations does not mean you cannot take a few days off. Stay at home. Binge watch, pick up the guitar or the canvas. Or just do some serious HIIT.If you find yourself similarly in need of some recharge time, avoid scheduling virtual hangouts for the weekend ahead. Give yourself that time to be totally unstructured about how you spend your day.
Work from home is here to stay for some time atleast. It’s time we accepted it and work towards making it normal and fun. We as human beings are extremely adaptable, should we put our minds to it. These small techniques shared in this article will surely help you to adapt positively towards the new normal, but you will need to make them your own. Each one of us is different and hence our coping mechanisms will be different too. Feel free to connect with us on firstname.lastname@example.org to know more!