The Covid-19 pandemic gave rise to a new way of doing business, as professional teams were forced into remote work-from-home (WFH) environments. Though the pandemic has slowed considerably, the WFH method is proving to be the new normal for many companies.
While working from home is well-suited for some, many professionals have found themselves feeling burnt out after enduring it for over a year. The key to avoiding this burnout is for individuals to set clear personal and professional boundaries according to their own needs.
The WFH method can be advantageous for both businesses and employees. Taking the right steps to avoid WFH burnout is essential for the method to be successful. In this article, I will discuss this type of burnout and provide you with 3 important tips for avoiding it.
What is Work From Home Burnout?
The term “burnout” refers to the feeling of exhaustion due to a prolonged period of emotional, mental, and physical stress.
In work environments, this burnout can be caused by highly demanding schedules and long hours, among other things. As professionals experience work-related burnout, this can result in drastically decreased motivation and productivity. Additionally, the health and well-being of a burnt-out person can be severely affected if the burnout is not properly addressed.
In March of 2021, Indeed surveyed 1,500 U.S. workers. The survey found that 52 percent felt burnt out at their current job over the past year. On top of this, 67 percent reported that this feeling increased over the pandemic.
A major stressor that contributed to these high percentages is the change from in-person to WFH work environments. While working from home comes with many benefits, it can also deprive professionals of set working hours and professional boundaries.
As such, WFH burnout has become an important consideration for all business people, including both business leaders and employees.
3 Key Tips for Avoiding Work-From-Home Burnout
Several important steps can be taken to help reduce the effects and prevalence of WFH burnout.
The following tips are beneficial to business team members at all levels. If you are a manager or higher, it is important to keep these tips in mind and work to accommodate the needs of your WFH teams.
1. Maintaining Firm Boundaries
When working from home, it can be easy to let your personal and professional life blend together.
However, this blurring of professional lines can take a serious toll on your mental health. Without clear boundaries, work can quickly begin to feel inescapable even from the comfort of your home.
Good professional boundaries to set include:
- Creating a specific home-office space used only during work hours
- Turning off your work phone or laptop when working hours have ended
- Stopping notifications during the weekend
- Clearly stating the appropriate times to contact you to both team members and clients
The key when setting professional boundaries is to stay consistent. If you constantly break your own rules, the people around you will not respect your boundaries either.
2. Setting Aside Time for Self Care
The amount of time you commit to you and you alone truly matters.
Setting aside specific times for taking care of yourself is crucial. This time will allow you to relax and ensure your mental, emotional, and physical health remains a priority.
Important self-care activities to partake in include:
- Proper Personal Hygiene: This may seem like a no-brainer, but when you are working from home it can be easy to overlook your hygiene and grooming routine. Taking the time to get ready in the morning will help you to feel more refreshed and motivated.
- Meditation and Mindfulness: In times of high stress, practicing meditation and mindfulness can help you to maintain a stronger sense of internal peace. Stress can affect your physical body as much as your mental state, so keeping stress levels to a minimum is critical.
- Dedicated Meal Times: Your body can only keep up with your work if you fuel it correctly. Working from home can easily distract you from your usual meal times. Setting firm rules with yourself on when you should eat will help you to keep your body and mind strong.
- Pre-Determined Free Time: You absolutely need to block out time where working is not allowed. Giving yourself adequate periods of rest will help you to be more productive and optimistic during your working hours.
3. Finding a Routine that Works for You
Ultimately, working from home allows you to create a routine that is highly specific to your wants and needs. By finding the routine that works best for you, you will be much happier and more satisfied at the end of each workday.
To create a unique work routine that suits your lifestyle, you should:
- Communicate Your Needs to Management: WFH allows you to create a unique schedule for yourself. If this schedule differs from the standard company schedule, communicating your working hours and needs to management is key.
- Work During Your Most Productive Times: For most people, the early hours after waking up are their most productive. No matter what time your productivity is at its height, you should use this time to do the bulk of your most important work.
- Schedule Adequate Breaks: To avoid burnout at home, you need to schedule breaks for yourself. Grab a snack, go for a walk, or do anything that helps you feel relaxed. This time will give you important moments of relief that will ultimately help you to work more consistently throughout the day!
Final Thoughts: Providing Your Team with the Support They Deserve
If you are a professional in a management position or higher, it is extremely important to be considerate of the health of your WFH teams.
Promoting regular, open, and honest communication is crucial. Your teams are the most supported when they have a high level of trust towards you and feel they can openly communicate their needs.
Above all else, it is of the utmost importance to treat both yourself and your teams with grace and understanding. Working from home is a big adjustment and there are bound to be obstacles along the way – but with the proper professional respect for one another, your businesses can thrive no matter the work environment.
Written by Stephen Newman, Head of Recruitment for North America at CPQi.