Many businesses and organizations have shifted to remote work. Virtual Assistants and their clients alike are now working from home. It seems like remote work will be here to stay as part of the New Normal. And while initially, work from home seemed cozy and comfy, months later it has become a bit less rosy. According to CNBC, “over two-thirds, or 69%, of employees are experiencing burnout symptoms while working from home.” Yikes. Working remotely has gone from a perk to a fact of life with its fair share of challenges that have to be overcome. So here is how you can beat work from home burnout:
Have you ever checked your work email even after your shift is over and you are having a meal or have gone to bed? Is your laptop always nearby, so you can get updates at any given time?
Despite the stereotypical concerns about remote work, like decreased productivity, the opposite has happened. Due to increased connections, people at home are actually logging more work hours. According to Bloomberg, people have been working three more hours per day since working from home. This should concern employers and everyone in general.
That border or boundary between “home self” and “work self” is eroding, diminishing people’s well-being and resulting in exhaustion.
What Can You Do?
Find balance between your “work self” and “home self.” This means creating borders and boundaries between activities, like adhering to office hours, silencing notifications after said hours, and avoiding work activities when the shift is over. Aside from scheduling, this can translate to literal physical bounds. Arrange a dedicated work space, whether by converting a room into a home office, or just using a specific table for Work Only. Don’t just tap away at your laptop anywhere from the dining table to the living room sofa to the bed – this is how said boundaries are crossed. Likewise, dressing for work even when you are at home can help too.
While you are logging in more work hours or doing overtime, is this because there are more tasks to be done or because it is taking you longer to accomplish them? If it is the latter, is it due to exhaustion or lack of motivation? That’s part of work from home burnout. This is not about laziness or procrastination, don’t look at it as a moral failing. It may simply be due to chronic stress due to the imbalances of remote work and the fact that 2020 has not exactly been peachy keen in terms of news and events. People are mentally and emotionally stretched thin, living in a perpetual state of alert or anxiousness can have unhealthy effects.
Consider taking focus off those stressors (even when you are procrastinating on work, you are still thinking about it or worrying about it) and diverting them to what brings you joy or excitement. So, what brightens up your day?
One of the core axioms of the Virtual Assistant industry is that VAs do the drudgework to allow employers, the clients and entrepreneurs running their startups, much needed time to focus on their priorities and strength. Likewise, someone dealing with work from home burnout can focus on the activities they are more proficient at, the stuff they are good at that they enjoy doing. Prioritize these tasks first before doing the boring, repetitive and monotonous stuff that saps your strength.
Missing Support Systems and Environment
For those cooped up at home alone, or those used to working in offices with the rest of the team, working remotely can be lonely. Who can you turn to if you are having trouble with certain tasks? Is there anyone there who can offer advice? Gone are the days of idle workplace banter, water cooler chit chat sessions and such.
Stay In Touch
Human interaction, even seemingly trivial ones, do matter and helps the workplace and team function. Like the grease between the mechanisms of an engine. After all, the people in the office are the ones who have your back if work gets rough. Moreover, while teammates talking about the latest episode of Mandalorian might not seem like a productive use of time, that sense of camaraderie and those moments of levity help people get through the day.
While those working on collaborative tasks do have to routinely communicate with their colleagues, individuals doing things that can be accomplished solo are at greater risk of becoming isolated. Likewise, the rest of the team might not even know what they are up to.
So keep in touch with the team. Management should institute routine virtual team huddles so everyone can stay apprised of what their colleagues are up to. This makes things easier to track for management but it is also a reminder that you are not alone.
Likewise, organizations can also take time to focus on matters beyond work. Just like how before the pandemic offices would hold game nights to cap off the week, team building activities can still go on virtually. This is why VBN participates in chess events.
Moreover, if you really feel the effects of burnout, communicate this tactfully to management and colleagues. Teammates should have each other’s backs, colleagues should pick up the slack for a while if one of them is feeling worn out. After all, the health and wellness of each member of the workforce should be among the organization’s priorities. Especially in these times.
Working from home has taught us to be more independent in doing our jobs and in life generally. But physical separation and its toll can be avoided or mitigated by the tools we have. After all, remote work is possible precisely because of our increased connectivity. Likewise, these tools also allow us to support one another. So each of us has an obligation to check ourselves before we wreck ourselves, because self-care should be a priority. Likewise, we should extend such consideration to others, whether they’re part of the workforce or the greater community. We must take care of ourselves and each other.