5 tips to avoid burnout out whilst working from home
The transition to remote working has come thick and fast courtesy of the coronavirus pandemic. And, while some may have seen this as a good thing initially, as time’s gone on, it’s become more and more important to protect yourself from the likelihood of burnout.
Many people simply need some semblance of an office atmosphere to help keep themselves motivated, after all. Whether that be through the need for virtual tea breaks or the productive atmosphere of working around others.
However, as the government announces the latest set of guidance encouraging workers back home and away from the office, staff burnout has become a very real prospect and one in which employers are now keen to avoid during their transition to a remote working model.
So, what can be done to limit the likelihood? Well, aside from listening to the expert advice from The Safety & Health Podcast episode on ‘Burnout, stress and being human’, this article is designed to answer exactly that question. You can also learn what makes us susceptible to burnout, here.
Business Growth Consultant Daniel Groves runs through five key ways that you, the employee, can avoid becoming burnt out and disengaged while working from home:
1. Maintain your work routine
While you may have initially loved the idea of spending all day working in your pyjamas, now that remote working is in full flow for several businesses, it’s important to maintain as many work and social boundaries as possible.
This is because, from a mental perspective, your psychological brain needs to recognise the transition from ‘non-work you’ to ‘working you’. By staying in your pyjamas all day, you’ll only confuse yourself, making it more difficult for you to stay engaged with your work.
To combat this, try to mimic the routine you had when you were in at the office. Get up, get ready and put the kettle on to boil. Then, go for a little stroll to replicate your ‘commute’ to work before setting down to start the day.
You’ll be amazed at how big an impact small changes like these can have when it comes to preventing work-related burnout.
2. Recreate the office environment
As we’ve mentioned already, recreating the office environment at home can make a big difference in terms of preventing burnout. After all, the more you feel at ease working at home, the more productive you’ll be, and the better your mental health will fare as a result.
Psychologically speaking, being able to differentiate between work and comfort is vital, but that can only be possible if you put enough time into creating an office-like environment at home.
To do this, try to set up your desk in an area of your home you don’t normally associate with comfort. Invest in a decent chair, desk lamp and any other work-related accessories you might need, then encourage yourself to follow a set working routine.
According to Resin Flooring HQ, your flooring can also “play an important role when it comes to recreating facets of the working environment”, with studies showing it can make a big difference to employee productivity.
Investing in a blackout blind or soundproofing the room you’re working in could be a great way of avoiding any potential external distractions.
3. Take regular breaks & walks
Spending too long stuck inside can lead to what’s known as cabin fever – a feeling of irritability resulting from a period of long confinement. To avoid this happening to you, it’s important to try and take walks as regularly and often as you can.
Whether you go on a long lunchtime walk with your dog or simply spend a few minutes pacing around your garden, getting some fresh air will really help when it comes to trying to getting a refresher from work and keeping your mental health in check.
Plus, if you can, try to leave your phone behind during your walks. Chances are, you’ll be using it non-stop while you’re working anyway so, why not escape the stream of phone calls and messages for a short time at least?
In doing so, you’ll not only help reset your mind, but you’ll also re-motivate yourself to get whatever you needed to get done, done.
4. Set boundaries
Now that you are working from home more often, you’ll likely be coming up against more distractions than you’ve ever needed to face before – namely, your family. With this in mind, while it can be difficult to find the perfect work-life balance, it’s important to set boundaries for you and your new at-home ‘colleagues’ to follow.
From a personal perspective, try to put all home-based concerns at the back of your mind while you work, such as doing the laundry, making dinner or playing with your kids. Save these tasks for your break, or as a reward for when you’ve managed to get through an important period of work.
Then, from a family perspective, have a clear system in place to inform your loved ones of when you can/can’t be interrupted. If you have an important virtual meeting, for example, it’s better to be transparent with your loved ones. Otherwise, you could end up becoming stressed as a result of trying to balance your work and home life at the same time.
5. Don’t get hung up on ‘normal’
We are currently living in incredibly uncertain times so don’t worry about needing to have a ‘normal routine’. Thanks to the pandemic, normal can pretty much be whatever suits you and your situation.
For example, one colleague may now need to arrange meetings at a different time of day due to having young children. Or, alternatively, you may need to work later on in the evening in order to pick your kids up during the day.
Whatever your circumstances are, don’t worry about needing to stick to the routine you had in the office. Your boss and colleagues are only human and, funnily enough, will be going through the exact same situation as you are right now.
Therefore, try to avoid putting added stress on your shoulders by putting your work first and life second. If you do, you will only end up resenting your work and feeling like you’re always having to catch up with yourself.
Home-related burnout is a serious concern for a number of employees but, with the right level of time, dedication and attitude, it needn’t be. The key thing to remember is that it’s OK to give yourself a break.
Life has already changed so much for everyone in the past few months and it’s now more important than ever to take the time to look after yourself. The only way you can do that is by being up-front and honest with both your virtual colleagues and yourself.
Take the time to step back and review your current at-home working situation. Then, ask yourself what could be done to improve it and make you feel more at ease while working. That way, you’ll not only help improve your level of productivity, but you’ll also keep the potential of burnout at bay.
Read SHP’s guide to home working here.