In theory, working from home sounds amazing – you can sleep later, no mad dash to catch the subway, you can work in your sweats if you want – the benefits are seemingly endless! Luckily at Konnect, a public relations and social media agency, we already had a generous WFH policy in place that helped prepare us to work from home full time. For some companies, this is a whole new world compared to their normal 9-5.
The main concern for some employers is if employee productivity will stay high. Employers should also be concerned about the potential for employee burnout. What exactly is WFH Burnout? WFH Burnout is defined by prolonged periods of stress caused by uncertainty, a lack of boundaries (both in time and space), and the added stress of adapting to working from home. Add a global pandemic to your normal WFH and it looks like a recipe for burnout!
Typically your day starts when you walk into the office and it ends when you leave to go home. But what happens when there is no office to walk into and no home to go to? It has all become the same place. The lines between work and non-work are blurring in new ways for those who are working from home for the first time. During these uncertain times, employees want to show their loyalty and devotion. This is done by always being “on” and being available around the clock. With that afternoon work turns into evening work and weekday working is turning into weekend working.
Here are a few recommendations that can help employees maintain boundaries between their work and personal life and thereby helping to avoid WFH Burnout.
- Set Boundaries
- We have all heard that a work-life balance is a key to happiness and success. Before WFH this was achieved by disconnecting at the end of the day and going to the gym, meeting friends for a drink, or any activity that takes your mind off work. When you aren’t leaving your house, finding the time to separate your work life from your home life allows your brain to shut off and recharge. If you aren’t closing your computer and disconnecting from work – it is easy to allow work to creep into your evenings and weekends. To the superhero parents who are working from home while their kids are also in the house – I applaud you – you deserve a medal!
- Where you work can be just as important as how and when you work. Konnect is a Los Angeles based public relations agency with offices in New York, Denver, and Austin. In New York, having a home office is a luxury. Setting up a small dedicated workspace allows you to create the mindset of walking away at the end of the day. If you work from your couch, eat at your couch and watch TV on your couch – you will never be able to set boundaries for yourself.
- Set a Schedule for Work-Life and Personal Life
- Being busy isn’t the same as being productive. Often employees feel a lack of control over schedules, interaction, and time management as drivers in their burnout. Given the uncertainty during COVID-19 these feelings can be exasperated. Prioritize your work so you know what is important to make sure you are being as productive as possible each day! Create a schedule for yourself setting aside time for work, family, and free time. This gives you more control over your week.
- Many people set small rituals for themselves for the start and end of their day.
- Examples of rituals to start your day
- Shower and put on work clothes
- Make coffee and plan your daily to-do list
- Go for a walk (to replace your morning commute)
- Examples of rituals to end your day
- Close all browser tabs and clean up your desktop
- Set your phone on airplane mode while you cook dinner or do a workout class to truly disconnect for a short period of time
- Close your laptop / shut down your work station each night
- Examples of rituals to start your day
- You cannot do everything
- Around 1-million Americans are losing their jobs each week. Even just reading that statement is incredibly stressful! The stress to show your value and worth is at an all-time high. When working from home you can feel immense pressure to show that you are adding value and working hard to give the perception of the perfect employee. To combat this undue stress, work with your managers to set expectations of the goals they need you to meet. There is truth in the common workplace inspirational quote “Work Smarter, Not Harder.”
- By setting realistic and helpful goals for yourself you can see the positive progress you are making each day. The more clearly you can see this, the less likely you will feel overworked and hit WFH Burnout.
- Stop checking your emails outside work hours
- Receiving an email after hours can cause immediate stress. Employees can feel compelled to respond right away, even when the email isn’t urgent. To protect yourself from WFH burnout you cannot be beholden to your inbox at all hours of the day. Speak with your managers to understand their expectations of after-hour emails.
- Take time for you!
- What have you done lately that has brought YOU joy? Self-care can be as simple as going for a short walk or calling a friend to catch up. You have to prioritize your mental health and well being by finding a little bit of happiness for yourself each day
By using some of these recommendations you can hit WFH Burnout head on and continue to be the great employee your employer knows you can be!
All the best,