6 tips for preventing WFH burnout

Millions of individuals across the United Kingdom have transitioned back to working from home amid the most recent lockdown. The sudden new reality has blurred the boundaries between our personal and professional lives as a result, leaving many staff struggling to define healthy boundaries. Indeed, getting the balance right between work and personal life has never seemed harder.

While working from home does off several benefits to employees and employers, it does have its struggles – especially amid a pandemic. Some may find themselves working longer hours to demonstrate commitment to concerned managers, while some may be struggling due to the pressures of working alongside home schooling. When the distinction between work and home begin to obscure, and individuals push themselves too hard, it is easy for signs of burnout to occur.

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Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It happens when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands. As the stress continues, interest is lost, as is the motivation that led you to take on a certain role in the first place. If burnout occurs, the negative impacts can spill into all areas of life – including your home, work and social life. Not only this, but burnout for a prolonged period can cause long-term affects to your body that make you more vulnerable to illnesses. Because of this, it is important to deal with it as soon as any signs come on. Some things look out for include:

  • Changes in mood
  • Increased mental distance from your job
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Withdrawing from everyday life
  • Increased anxiety
  • Unhealthy habits
  • Feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion
  • Reduced professional efficacy

If any of these resonate with you, then do not worry. Across the entrust IT Group we have put our heads together to come up with the key ways in which you can avoid burnout and stay happy while working from home. Read on to find out more.

Communicate regularly

Sitting alone in a closed home office without co-workers around you can understandably make one feel alone and isolated – especially those who thrive on social interactions. This feeling can be particularly intense while in a national lockdown and we are all isolating, so it’s important to communicate regularly with your colleagues and manager – remote work does not mean communication should stop.

Schedule in video calls, pick up the phone or chat instantly with other team members to keep that connection. Talk about work, engage in casual chat or crack some jokes. While video calls are great for maintaining human connection, keep in mind not every meeting or chat needs to be over video. For some, constant virtual appointments can become stressful or burdensome. We recommend taking some calls walking outside or sitting to create balance.

For our customers, Microsoft Teams has allowed them to keep connected with their co-workers, customers and clients throughout the pandemic so far. It is cloud-based, so people are connected via the internet and there are no phone call charges. You can chat, send gifs, stickers and emojis in a group chat or in one-to-one messages, as well as make reliable voice and video calls using the platform. Teams is also available on a wide range of devices, so no matter what you are using at home, there is a secure and familiar experience.

Take regular breaks

When we work from home, it is easy to continuously work throughout the day without taking any regular breaks like when in the office. Anyone who works from home regularly knows it is far too easy to get sucked into completing a project, a meeting that went on twice as long or completing tasks for upcoming deadlines. Unfortunately, this can slowly lead to exhaustion.

Take random coffee or tea breaks, get a snack from the kitchen, chat with a family member or take a walk outside when you start to feel crowded physically as well as mentally. Physical exercise away from your computer is great for giving your head some space. Get some fresh air and take yourself away from ‘work’. According to experts, taking a short 5-minute break every 30 mins to an hour is recommended if you want to stay focused, improve productivity and avoid work from home burnout.

Set up your space for work

Working from home doesn’t mean you can work from your bed or couch all day. Not only is this bad for posture, but it means there is too little distinction between work and relaxation. Moreover, being uncomfortable or not having an area where you can focus may lead to frustration and stress while working.

To help you maintain a professional outlook to your work when away from the office, create a dedicated workspace in one area of your home. This can be in a completely separate room, or if you struggle for space, consider cornering off one part of the kitchen or even your bedroom. Once you’ve found your space, stick to it. This will help you keep the distinction between work and personal life, as well as ensure family members know you are working and need as little distractions as possible.

Embrace your normal routine

Work from home does bring flexibility and it is understandable to want to enjoy such an advantage. However, it is important to try stick to your normal work routine in some way to help you get into the work mindset and stay productive. If you shower every morning or listen to a podcast on your way to work, try keep that as part of your daily routine to set the tone.

The point here is – while working from allows flexibility, you will want to maintain some boundaries. For example, by trying to stick to normal work hours, you won’t find yourself working way past the time your day is officially meant to be over. Furthermore, set expectations with your manager and co-workers so they know when you will be available, then try to stay within those parameters.

Set clear deadlines

In the current climate of working from home, one source of stress can come from not meeting deadlines, or not being clear on what they are due to being away from the office for so long. Set up a video call and work with your manager to clearly define priorities and goals, then set your deadlines and work in a way that you know you can meet them.

If you find you are unable to meet the deadlines set, you may end up overworking yourself, which will set you up for potential burnout as a result. Ensure you communicate with your manager if this happens so that you both can create a workload you can handle.

Be kind to yourself

Working from home is now the new normal. That being said, many individuals may not have experienced working in this way before the pandemic and even those who have, the current circumstances may not allow them to separate their work and personal lives as easily as normal.

Resist the urge to be ‘always on’ to your co-workers and manager. Employees who do this are at higher risk of burnout. Rather, try to make time for yourself mentally and physically. For instance, take short breaks to recharge, stretch between meetings, spend time with your family and remember, everyone is doing their best – including you!

Conclusion

According to a recent Glint survey, “burnout doubled from March to April, increasing from 2.7% to 5.4%, suggesting that it’s a growing threat to the productivity and engagement of today’s workforce”. Indeed, it was found those who struggle with balancing home and work are 4.4x more likely to exhibit signs of burnout. If this is the case, it is crucial to be aware of the signs and ways to avoid it happening. Ensure you communicate regularly with colleagues and your manager, yet also make time for yourself and resist being ‘always on’. Embrace your normal routine, yet make sure you take regular breaks to give yourself time to breath. Finally, set up a space for work and stick to it, so there is a distinct difference between work and personal.

The entrust IT Group have already helped many businesses throughout the pandemic by implementing solutions such as Microsoft Teams. It has truly been a game changer for our customers especially, ensuring their staff can stay connected in many ways more than one while isolating and working from home.

The reality is, burnout can happen to anyone, at any point in their career and lives. By following the tips listed in our blog, you too, like many others can ensure it is avoided when working from home in the current climate and beyond.

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