Millions of people globally have made the switch to working from home, and this has presented a number of challenges for companies and employees alike. From finding a suitable workspace to staying socially connected, many adjustments have been made so that companies and their employees can work remotely in a way that works for everyone.
However, when your home life and professional life are merged into one space, it can be difficult to set clear boundaries between the two. Being productive at home can also be a challenge if a worker’s space isn’t functional. The added stress of COVID-19 has amplified these problems and, altogether, have set the stage for a growing concern: employee burnout.
A July 2020 study found that 69% of employees are experiencing burnout symptoms since working from home, up 20% since May. These numbers will likely grow as workplaces continue to operate remotely. So what can employees do?
Below are some tips for preventing burnout while working from home:
1) Look Out For Burnout Symptoms
Being more introspective about how remote work has impacted you is a great start to addressing possible burnout. Has work become more stressful? Do you feel overworked and less motivated? Do you feel that you have work-life balance?
Because burnout develops over time, continually evaluating your attitude towards work and being on the lookout for burnout signs is an excellent way to check in on yourself.
2) Set Clear Boundaries and Limits
Setting rules and limits for your work life can go a long way in preventing work exhaustion. Establish a clear start and end to your day to counteract some of the stress with working too late. This also allows you to “shut off” after work like you normally would when you were back in the office.
Additionally, having a physical boundary for work such as a designated workspace can make it easier for you to unwind and not associate the rest of your home with work. Finally, having standards like “no work after 5:00” or “no emails on weekends” can help you better enjoy moments of relaxation once the workday is over. It helps to communicate these intentions with your team; if you’re a manager, you can encourage the entire team to practice these rules within reason, alleviating any anxiety they may have about “not working hard enough” at home.
3) Schedule Breaks Throughout The Day
Every work-from-home routine requires balance. When deciding on a schedule that works for you, remember to incorporate breaks in between. Getting up to stretch and grab a cup of coffee can help you pause from work and have some time to breathe, relax, and recharge. Closing our laptop and unplugging for a bit can help you recalibrate and ease some of your eye strain from staring at a screen for too long.
Over time, scheduling breaks throughout the day can prove to be a great part of a remote work routine. It can reduce day-to-day stress that, in the long-term, can lead to burnout.
4) Use Your Vacations Days
While traditional vacations are currently off-limits, using vacation days to call out of work for a rest break can be helpful if you are experiencing burnout symptoms. A recent study found that workers have been putting off vacation days as the pandemic increases. Reasons for this include not being to make plans and go somewhere and wanting to use vacation days for when it is safer to travel. This trend, coupled with the growing disruption to work-life balance, may be contributing to increased stress and exhaustion among remote employees.
If you’re able to, now is a great time to tap into your vacation days and enjoy some much-needed down time. Call out for a day or two and take some time to unwind and unplug from your daily work routine.
5) Remember: It Can Probably Wait Until Tomorrow
Sometimes, we may catch ourselves working late into the afternoon or night. We tell ourselves that we’ll finish “soon” as we labor away for hours after our work day has ended. The next time this happens, ask yourself: “Can this wait until tomorrow?” If you answer “yes,” then call it a day and resume work the next morning.
As much as we can feel wrapped up in our work, prioritizing our well-being and adhering to our limits should always be one of our top priorities. Without proper breaks, we cannot maintain our health and function as well as we want to. Reminding ourselves to stop working once our work day is over can sometimes be hard, but it can be a great preventative measure for burnout.