These past few weeks, and the next many weeks, many companies mandate their employees to work from home to slow down the spreading of COVID-19. Immediate health benefits from avoiding crowded spaces are obvious. However, there is a consequence that affects employees’ mental health due to burnout during work from home.
The cause of burnout during work from home
There are a lot of perks of working at home. No commute, more flexibility, and sweatpants and shirts as your office outfit. Isn’t that what we have all dreamt of?
However, although there is a claim that says working from home is more productive, this crisis takes it into a different meaning of remote work. Social distancing instruction causes the decline of many people’s mental health due to isolation and the fuse of private and professional space.
Social distancing does not only force people to work at home, but also to remain inside their home for an unknown period. It causes them to have very little engagement and daily conversations with other people, while in fact, those are the aspects that constitute a sense of well-beingness. It aggravates when the employee lives alone.
Yet, that doesn’t simply conclude those who live with family are unbothered. Splitting between the personal and working space can be challenging when children are around. A two-earner family might need to separate responsibilities for childcare and work stuff.
Moreover, a study conducted by Bloomberg shows that it turns out most people work longer in the house than they are in the office. The “flexibility” that work from home promises makes people feel like they need to contribute more than their colleagues.
If the three factors combined, workers can feel anxious, sad, tired, frustrated, and bored during this quarantine. That does not include the fear brought by health risk, employment layoffs, and public uncertainty.
Burnout can happen to any individual that suffers from prolonged stress. The problem arises from lacking control of their external world. This mental condition has at least three characteristics: complete exhaustion and inability to cope, cynicism towards work, and lowered productivity.
You should be cautious if you experience these symptoms because it can affect your health in general. This could be your behavior if you already experience burnout during work from home:
Working around the clock
In the “normal” situation, you would go hard at the office and get relaxed at home. With the dissolving of personal and professional space, you struggle to detach one from the other and work persistently instead. You feel exhaustive and have not taken care of yourself properly.
When you finally get to work from home, you are full of enthusiasm thanks to the “flexibility”. However, you have worked too much that one day you are sick of it. You become very weary and put things off for the sake of relaxing for a while. You feel like you’re failing because you are incapable of setting goals even for the short term.
Feeling desolated when problems arise
At the office, you are surrounded by many people whom you can share your problems with and they will help you to solve it. Confined in a room, consequently, makes you feel lonely especially when problems arise. You are very frustrated and uptight because you have to handle all the problems by yourself—although you can reach your friends at any minute.
Anxious to do more
We often compare ourselves with our colleagues at the office. However, it intensifies when you work at home. You can’t see what your colleagues are doing, thus you feel the urge to work more just in case they are performing better than you already have. This is the sign of burnout.
Plenty of needless meeting
Work from home is akin to phone calls or video conferences to make sure that the team is on the page. However, because you have no energy to do anything else, you try to kill time and be “productive” by making up pointless meetings. It’s rather impulsive although you know you and your teammates have something else to do.
Preventing burnout tips
Companies can contribute to maintaining their employees’ mental health by establishing proper working hours while supervising their productivity. It’s all possible with a system that enables internal collaboration with real-time data and seamless communication platform. It prevents them from working more or less than the working hours.
Meanwhile, there are also strategies that can help employees individually to avoid burnout such as:
- Adjust your expectation – it’s normal if you can finish your five-hour task in three hours only because you’re more productive. Don’t be guilty.
- Finish your work on time – set the alarm 30 minutes before you’re working hour finish so you can wrap up your tasks without spending extra time.
- Turn off all of your gadgets – switch off your laptop and delete all apps related to your work once it’s done. It prevents you from checking your work constantly.
- Plan the next day – planning helps you to create a to-do list and prioritize important tasks so you don’t have to spend your time uselessly thinking about what to work on tomorrow.
- Have a transition ritual – separate between the working time and the rest of the day by showering, changing your outfit, meditating, planning your work, and clean up your working space.
- Evaluate your day – at the end of the day, conclude how your performance and your thought about it. Then, think about how to make the day after better than ever.
- Do what makes you happy – do whatever excites you. It can be watching TV, playing games, calling your friends, cooking, and more.
- Be cautious over burnout signs – aside from the symptoms mentioned above, be attentive if you have a headache, become short-tempered with family or friends, and easily offended.
Having burnout during work from home is possible. Therefore, don’t be coaxed by the “flexibility” or “freedom” of working from home because if you can’t control it, you are prone to weariness. Home can be a toxic place if you can’t efficiently divide the personal and professional space.