Millions of people were forced to work from home as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Working remotely sounded promising, as it supposedly resulted in benefits such as greater flexibility, improved productivity, and more time to attend to personal matters. Some businesses have even allowed their employees to work from home forever.
However, as the home became a place for both work and relaxation, the lines between personal and professional lives began to blur. Some people eventually felt fatigued and developed a tendency to feel detached from work, leading to poor productivity and work from home burnout.
What is work from home burnout, and what are its signs?
According to licensed clinical psychologist Andrew Schwehm, work from home burnout happens when we fail to separate our work and personal lives. Because work and home are the same place, people may feel compelled to keep working even after their regular working hours. Stressful incidents at home may also affect productivity at work.
Here are a few signs of work from home burnout:
- Feeling indifferent about work
- Failing to complete tasks on time
- Experiencing mood swings
- Experiencing anxiety or symptoms of depression like fatigue and hopelessness
- Getting poor sleep or experiencing insomnia
- Experiencing physical symptoms like headaches, dizziness, chest pain, or heart palpitations
- Drinking or smoking to cope
Related article: Tips to ensure the productivity of your remote work staff
How to deal with work from home burnout
Work from home burnout can’t be solved by taking a long weekend or getaway, especially since pandemic-related restrictions are still in effect. Because burnout is a chronic condition and has a cyclical nature, you need to change your working conditions to break free from it. Here are some things you can do:
1. Set a fixed working schedule
Setting a schedule every day helps you know if it’s time to stop working. As soon as your shift ends, step away from the computer and focus on your personal life. Do some non-work-related activities, such as reading a book, playing a game, or cooking a healthy meal.
2. Have a to-do list
It pays to have a to-do list when you're working on a fixed schedule. List all your tasks for the day, and work on each one based on urgency. Cross off a task once you’re done with it and move on to the next task until you're done with everything.
3. Have a dedicated work from home space
Having a dedicated workspace can help you focus better at work. Pick an area where you can work distraction-free, such as a spare/guest room. If there are other people at home, inform them about your work schedules so you can focus on work properly and they can avoid disturbing you.
4.Take short but frequent breaks
Working from home can be very draining, so it’s important to take a break regularly to keep your mental flow going. During breaks, you can do activities such as stretching your muscles, doing guided breathing exercises, taking a walk around your yard, or eating a healthy snack.
But how long should your break be? One study suggests that breaks should last for 17 minutes after a 52-minute working session, while another claims that 12% of the workday should be allocated to breaks. While there is no strict rule for taking breaks, one thing is apparent: scheduling breaks gives people something to look forward to and helps them be more productive.
5. Connect with someone
Some people may experience anxiety and depression because of the social isolation created by the pandemic. This makes it more important than ever to reach out to someone, like a family member, friend, or therapist, even if it’s only through video calls.
When you have the time, talk to them about what you’re going through and what you’re currently feeling. They will remind you that what you’re experiencing is normal, you are not alone, and the burnout will not last forever.
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