Working From Home: How To Avoid Burnout In 2021
Before the global shift to working from home caused by COVID-19, it was widely believed that those who worked remotely had it easier. And in many ways, this was the case.
Remote working removes the need for lengthy commutes and the costs associated with transportation and also enables workers to forge a better work-life balance. Of course, every working scenario has its challenges, and the biggest challenge remote workers are up against one year after the start of this ‘new normal’ is combatting the dreaded burnout. The numbers back this up too, with a survey from Monster finding that 69 percent, more than two-thirds, of remote workers are currently experiencing burnout, and that number seems to be growing.
While shocking, this rate of burnout is understandable under the circumstances. After all, the transition to a completely new way of working is a huge adjustment for any worker. But that, compounded with the trauma of surviving through an extended pandemic, social isolation from both friends and family, as well as the political instability of the past year – or four – has resulted in many feeling overworked, overwhelmed, and exhausted. Short of shutting down businesses and giving every worker an extended break to recuperate, how can this new epidemic – mass burnout – be remedied?
There are a number of things remote workers can do to combat burnout, and exercise is among the most effective. As we all know, movement is essential to good mental and physical health. Unfortunately, when working from home it’s all too easy to forget how much incidental exercise we used to do every day: walking to the car, from the car to the office, walking up and downstairs, walking to a colleagues desk, or grabbing a coffee, even standing while taking public transport. Now, without these in-between tasks, we’re lucky to walk further than the boundaries of our homes.
Luckily, there are ways to squeeze little bursts of exercise in between Zoom meetings and after work without committing to a full hour of sweating every day. Simple acts like taking a fifteen-minute walk outside can get your blood flowing and fresh air into your lungs. Apps like Peloton, with workouts spanning from five to 45 minutes can also help to squeeze bursts of exercise into your day without the need for preparation or cooldown time. An additional way to increase physicality while working from home is through investing in a standing desk. This is backed up by evidence, with researchers at the University of Leicester finding that standing at work improves both job performance and psychological health.
The environment is another major factor in combating burnout. When the nation was first forced to switch over to remote work, many found themselves working at their dining table, in the bedroom, or at the coffee table whilst sat on the floor. One year later, unfortunately some have never moved on from these work conditions. While working in a make-do space is fine in the short-term, in the long-term factors like desk height, chair ergonomics, and physical surroundings can have hugely detrimental effects on productivity, posture, and mental health. As such, it’s crucial to perform two things when working from the home long term – Build a dedicated workspace, and invest in quality office furniture. Doing so can also net a few deductions at tax time, so be sure to keep any receipts.
Having a set area for work helps to forge mental boundaries between work and home time. These boundaries are also essential for the final consideration when combating burnout: ample rest. According to a study by Airtasker, getting enough rest is ignored by many remote workers, who take less breaks and work longer hours. In fact, this has resulted in the equivalent of 1.4 extra workdays per month compared to those who work in traditional office environments.
While having a dedicated workspace can help in defining boundaries between work and home time, it’s even more essential for employees to implement their own strict working hours. A key way to do this is to determine timeframes where you absolutely have to be available for the rest of the team, as well as the times when you’re most productive. From there you can work out your own – reasonable – working schedule. While at times it can feel like every task is crucial and you have to be available around the clock, unless you’re a doctor or surgeon it’s likely not the case. To define those windows of time where you’ll make yourself available and stick to them to get ample rest and avoid burnout.
For frontline and remote workers alike, COVID-19 has had a massive impact on every aspect of our lives. As such, it’s essential for workers to apply sympathy and understanding with themselves around work and productivity, while also finding ways to improve their home working conditions. By focusing on getting enough exercise, building an effective, ergonomic workspace, and identifying an ideal work schedule (and sticking to it) anyone working from home can avoid burnout and enjoy the advantages of remote working to their fullest.
Chi Tran, CMO of Autonomous.ai, joined as one of the first business persons in their early days in 2015 to help build the e-commerce brand and the growth team from scratch. Just in a little over 5 years, the team has grown to 30 people worldwide taking charge of a global marketing effort which has brought around 300M dollars in revenue.
- Monster Study
- University of Leicester Study
- Remote Workers – 1.4 Extra Days Per Month