We’re over a year into the pandemic, and for many of us, remote working feels a lot more normal than it did in those early months. Although restrictions are now starting to lift and workplaces are reopening, it looks like working from home might be here to stay. Various companies, including city accounting firm Pricewaterhouse Coopers and several British banks, have announced that their employees will continue to work from home at least some of the time. While this may be welcome news for some employees, others are desperate to get back to the routine of going into the office.
Most of us have experienced challenges when working from home, like fighting for space at the kitchen table or trying to look enthusiastic in our fifth Zoom meeting of the day. Parents have also had the pleasure of having homeschooling thrown into the mix. Unsurprisingly, many people have struggled to find the right work/life balance and are feeling pretty stressed as a result. If this stress is left to build up over time, it can eventually lead to burnout.
What is Burnout?
Burnout is a physical and mental health crisis that occurs as a result of prolonged exposure to stress, often associated with work. People who suffer burnout can reach the point that they feel unable to cope in their job, and end up taking time off sick or leaving work altogether.
Burnout when working from home can be particularly difficult to manage, as you don’t get to come away from your workplace at the end of the day. For some people, remote working and worry over job security due to the pandemic has also created a feeling that they have to be available all the time. The lack of downtime can contribute to stress levels and increase the risk of burnout.
Signs of Burnout
Typical signs of burnout vary from person to person, but generally involve overwhelming feelings of worry, anxiety, and fear. You might feel like you’re losing control of your life and failing in your job. Other signs include behavioural changes, such as irritability, difficulty concentrating and a loss of confidence.
Burnout can also impact physical health, causing exhaustion, difficulty sleeping, and changes to appetite. People suffering from burnout might use unhealthy coping mechanisms, like increasing alcohol consumption, eating more, or smoking, which can further impact health.
5 Tips to Prevent Work From Home Burnout
The old adage, ‘prevention is better than cure’, applies here. The best way to prevent burnout is to manage your stress before you reach crisis point.
Here are our 5 tips to prevent work from home burnout.
1. Switch off your computer at the end of the day
It can be tempting to just finish that task or check your emails one more time, even after your workday has finished. Setting a finishing time and sticking to it creates a clear boundary between work and home to help you switch off when you finish for the day.
2. Take proper breaks
When working from home, it’s important to take regular breaks and a proper lunch hour, just as you would in the office. If you manage to get outside during the day, even better. Try setting a timer for when you’d normally have your break, and take a coffee into the garden to switch off for a few minutes. Regular time out and a proper lunch break can really help to shake that feeling that you’re constantly at work.
3. Talk to your manager
Consider talking to your manager about how you’re feeling. Most companies acknowledge that life has been pretty stressful of late, and some have even launched staff wellbeing initiatives to help employees cope through the pandemic. At the very least, your employer should support you to take a step back from some of your duties while you focus on your mental health.
4. Return to the office if possible
Returning to the office removes many of the challenges of working from home and might be the most effective way to get back on track. Keep an eye out for any signs that your office might be reopening and offer to be one of the first back.
5. Consider changing your job
Sadly, not all workplaces value the health and wellbeing of their employees. If you are working in a toxic company with a culture of bullying, mismanagement, or disregard of staff, it might be time to think of looking for a new job. Our Ultimate Jobseeker Guide can take you through the process step by step.