Home Work Burnout is becoming more talked about as the pandemic continues. In the early stages of the lockdown working from home was a welcome novelty for many. Not many of us envisage still doing it seven months later.
Initially, the idea sounded ideal: no commute, joggers on all day and a break from your commute. As the pandemic lingers, with no definitive end in sight, fatigue and burnout have surfaced as important issues affecting many remote employees.
"It is harder to compartmentalise our lives"
It is harder now to compartmentalise our lives — work versus personal. When you work from home, your attention can be split. Your dog’s barking, your partner might be working next to you, your children are running around. Your concentration demands more emotional energy. At the end of the day, this can be more draining than going to the office.
Instead of in-person interactions or conversations, at-home workers constantly rely on their computers and phones to stay connected. It is not only at work: the COVID-19 crisis has forced many relationships to rely solely on using technology to stay in touch, and it has taken its toll. We are all having some technology fatigue because we have been driven to use it for more aspects of our lives.
With no end in sight here are six strategies to help you alleviate home and technology working stress.
1. Switch to phone calls instead of video conferences.
Get a break from Zoom calls. Concentrating on someone’s voice only is a different task for our brains. On a Teams or Zoom call, our attention is constantly split. We are not focusing on one person but many and, quite often on how we look or what the backdrop is.
To avoid that feeling of being on show go back to a telephone or conference call for some meetings if possible.
2. Reduce multi-tasking.
Even if you think you have mastered the skill of simultaneously writing emails while joining in a conference call, doing both requires more energy.
You cannot actually do two things at the same time; your brain is constantly switching between the task. This competition for your attention is extra tiring.
Try being more mindful and present on one task. Closeout all applications and browser tabs you are not using. Put your phone out of reach and turn off any other distractions to help you concentrate on only one activity.
3. Schedule fewer meetings.
Think about your meetings that were already pre-scheduled before COVID hit. Are they all still necessary? Does everyone invited need to join? Can they be shortened?
Think, are we still trying too hard to actually see each other and can some meetings just be an email? You possibly started off having a daily team meeting to stay connected but just check these are still needed every day. Can you now schedule some of these meetings to be less often or shorter so you can actually get on with your work?
4. Take mini-breaks.
We do not mean a weekend away here, just pause between meetings to change your physiology between tasks. Stand up, make a brew or look out of the window and ready yourself for the next part of your day. These might seem like small things but are useful to reset your mental energy.
Look at the time you are taking to do meetings. There is no need to stick to the hour if that is what is scheduled, and it is ok to have ten-minute meetings and then get on. Short, sharp, and succinct are still the best lessons online.
5. Stick to your pre-COVID work routine (even the commuting time).
What are you doing with your commute time now that you are working from home? Staying in-bed longer, doing more housework or just starting work earlier. This commute time is valuable and might have been time when you caught up on podcasts, read a book, listened to the radio or just got your thoughts together.
Try not to lose this precious time and use it to your advantage. Go for a walk during your commute time and listen to that podcast or read. Keeping to a routine really helps with burn out and helps you transition from home to work.
At the end of the day do the same to help you cut off from work and unwind before getting back to your family or social time. Another good idea is to make sure you close your computer and pack up your work things. Do this even if you are leaving it in the same place as a way of telling your mind that it is the end of the day.
6. Figure out your body’s energy rhythm, and plan accordingly.
A positive of working from home is that many of us can adapt our working time slightly and do not have to be stuck to 9-5. This might work better with your natural body’s energy.
If you are a morning person then getting stuck in a bit earlier and being able to finish earlier might be more productive. Similarly, if your circadian rhythm means you prefer more sleep and a later start you can maybe adapt to this. Using your natural energy patterns will make you more productive and less fatigued with working from home.
If none of the above work enough for you and you need to get away from home to work occasionally then
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