In order to flatten the curve of the Pandemic, COVID-19 the government has initiated a lockdown. For the first time, millions of people around the world are now working remotely. People are worried that their productivity will decrease because of Work from Home.
But a few weeks into the quarantine people are realizing that work from home is a lot more hectic than going to the office. Workplace burnout doesn't solely happen when you're putting in long hours at the office. It's also a risk when you're working from home, camped out at your kitchen table in your sweats.
Working in an office gives the day a structure. There are proper working hours, breaks, and socializing all of which contributes towards keeping employees stress free. With Work from Home, there is no structure to life. Professional life is taking over personal life and it has become very difficult to balance the same. The Work from Home has changed the way offices and employees use to operate.
9-5 Job is no more the norm. The phone seems to keep ringing. Every day is overtime. Weekdays have blended into weekends and the sense of time is lost.
Due to the Pandemic, the world may soon face a recession people feel that they must work all the time to signal their loyalty, devotion, and productivity.
With the absence of the office hours structure, "leave work at the door" is no more an option. The professional like is overshadowing the personal life.
It is challenging to work in the presence of their families. Especially for employees who have young children and now do not have the support of their domestic helpers. Others must manage house chores and meetings.
Many studies have proved that drawing the line between professional life and personal life is important for mental health. Moreover, employees need time to relax so that productivity is maintained which the work from home schedule doesn't take into account.
Recently in the Harvard Business Review, an article was published which highlighted some tips to avoid Work from Home Burnout:
In order to maintain a difference between professional and personal life, try to make an illusion of your normal working day. Wake up at the normal time. Follow the usual morning routine and get ready for the office. Replace your commute time by taking a walk in a park or in your house. Or just switch the gears. Wake up and use the commute time as exercise time and then get ready.
All these activities are physical and social indicators that something has changed. You’ve transitioned from “home you” to “work you.”
Another illusion that can help is by creating an illusion of work timings. Maintaining temporal boundaries is critical for well-being and work engagement.
Work from Home means taking care of household chores, added responsibility of childcare or eldercare while working regular working hours which now means overtime every day. It is now difficult for everyone given laptops and mobile phones which means that work is with us all the time.
Sticking to the normal 9-5 routine is not an option. So, in order to keep up with work, everyone needs to make their own work-time schedule which works best. This also means accounting for the fact that not everyone will have the same schedule as yours. This can be done by just adding that you might take some more time to respond than usual, decreasing response expectations for others and yourself.
To create Temporal boundaries one has to coordinate one's time with others. This calls for leaders to aid employees in structuring, coordinating, and managing the pace of work. This might mean regularly holding virtual check-in virtual meetings with employees or providing them with tools to create virtual coffee or workspaces. Through this disruption, keeping a sense of normality is key.
Reprioritizing is the key when it comes to Work from Home. Workers should devote their time to top-priority issues instead of focusing on tasks that may not be that important.
In order to increase productivity employees may start working on issues that may be important but not the top priority. Employees, particularly those facing increased workloads as they juggle family and work tasks, should pay attention to prioritizing important work.
It's important for employees to carve out some non-work time and mental space to maintain their own mental health. Working all the time, answering the email as soon as you get a few free minutes instead of taking a breather and relaxing will be counterproductive for your mental health in the long run.
These few suggestions will help employees maintain boundaries between their work and their personal life and thereby avoid burnout in the long run. Employees will need the flexibility to experiment with how to make their circumstances work for them in these unpredictable times.