Scanteam and other leading companies are beginning to understand the benefits of remote working, both to the employer and employee. The last year has put a spotlight on this method of operation and seen almost every industry adapting to the new normal.
For many people, this can be quite problematic. The biggest challenge is finding the balance between the two worlds. As you’d imagine, this has posed an increased risk of work from home burnout during COVID.
In this article, we’ll look at what it means to be burned out, how to identify the signs, and what you can do about it.
What is Work-From-Home Burnout, and Why Is It Happening?
The first question that you may be asking is “What is burnout?” According to the World Health Organization, it’s defined as an “occupational phenomenon” prevalent among remote workers. The WHO burnout definition is that “it’s a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that hasn’t been successfully managed.”
While it isn’t classified as a medical condition, burnout can leave you feeling listless, drained, and unmotivated. These symptoms are similar to those of depression.
Over the last year, studies show that approximately 69 percent of people working remotely are experiencing WFH burnout. Since the economic impact of the pandemic on various industries has companies reducing salaries, people are pushing harder to make ends meet.
Taking care of home and family responsibilities while balancing work, leaves many feeling as if they’re being pulled in every direction. While you’re giving all you can to meet all of your obligations, where do you draw the line on “enough”?
How to Recognize Work-From-Home Burnout. Warning Signs:
There’s a lot more to experiencing burnout than just being exhausted. The fact is that it could lead to some serious health issues if not taken care of immediately and correctly. Here’s a list of the burnout symptoms to keep an eye out for.
1. Asking Yourself 'Am I Burning Out?'
If you’re asking yourself “am I burning out?” then you probably are. You’re likely realizing that you’re working too much and pushing yourself too far. Is there such a thing as “working too much” in Western culture? The answer is yes. If you’re working more than 40-50 hours per week, you’re in the sphere of “too much”.
WFH burnout during COVID is something to be expected, given the extra stress that everyone is under. It may not have impacted everyone in the same way, but no one has escaped the dark claw of this pandemic. It’s no wonder the burnout statistics have climbed with daily life stress along with the work pressures on top of the external influences.
2. Avoiding Work
One of the biggest signs of burnout at work is procrastination to do your job. For many, being at home equates to relaxation and freedom to do what you want. You may find that friends pop in for a quick visit but leave four hours later. The challenge with this symptom is stepping out of that mindset to focus on your tasks at hand.
You may have a mile-long to-do list and little to no motivation to complete it. With each day that you don’t, your tiny speed bump ahead of you starts to appear more like an unscalable mountain.
3. Declining Performance
When you first started working remotely, you were determined to make it work. You put in the extra hours, took on additional tasks, and had the motivation to succeed and thrive in your job. Over time you’ve started slowing down, ending your workday earlier, leaving tasks for the next day, missing deadlines, or regularly making mistakes. Does this sound familiar?
This is one of the first signs of burnout at work and shouldn’t be ignored. It’s your early indication that it’s time to slow down before you decline too much.
4. Apathy or Exhaustion
Are you exhausted to the point of feeling numb about every situation? Are you having trouble paying attention to your tasks and getting things done? Have you lost your passion for your work and find it to be more of a chore? This is one of the most concerning burnout symptoms.
Apathy is a sign of full-blown burnout and requires urgent attention. This downward spiral could have serious repercussions for your health and your job. According to Vicki Salemi, a career expert from Monster.com, “Most people return to work from even a short amount of time off feeling more productive and refreshed.” If you haven’t yet, now’s the time to take a break and find your passion again.
5. Inability to Disconnect
When you’re working away from home, it’s easier to shift your mind into different gears according to your environment. When the two worlds mesh, finding the balance between them can be quite challenging.
Many companies are using various communication apps to make remote working easier for everyone. The problem is that it also makes disconnecting from work difficult. Every “little message” you respond to or call you to answer adds up. Before you know it, you’re working more than you intended.
6. Engaging Difficulties
In an office environment, we’re surrounded by colleagues and have the opportunity to engage in conversations all day. Working from home, this option is removed. In some cases, the only regular contact you have with people is through instant messaging apps, emails, or zoom meetings. When you’re around people again, you find it hard to adjust and engage with them.
On the other side of it, you may find that you’re spending so much time having virtual contact with coworkers, that you don’t want to connect with the people like you used to. This drastic change to your social outlook could have a devastating impact on your relationships and make it harder to engage in daily life again.
7. Being Irritable
Stress can have the greatest impact on your physical, mental, and emotional state. One of the most significant signs of WFH burnout during COVID is a change in mood. You may find yourself unreasonably irritable with everyone around you and every situation. If you find yourself with fluctuating moods, namely irritability, and anger, it could indicate that you’re not coping with the stress.
When you’re working in an office, you have coworkers around you to notice these changes. At home, you need to pay attention and take action accordingly. While having some mood fluctuation is normal, it shouldn’t be occurring too often. If you notice a change, it’s time to evaluate how you’re managing the stress you’re facing.
8 Feeling Bored
If you have a passion for your job, then the sudden feeling of boredom is something to pay attention to. A notable sign of work from home burnout during COVID is a lack of interest in your tasks. When you see this, you might consider taking a step back to regain perspective and reignite your spark for what you do.
9. Unhealthy Habits
Without a balance in your life, you could be working late hours and having trouble sleeping. Without a good night’s rest, you may find that you’re drained of all energy and struggle to make it through the day. Not maintaining your exercise regime and healthy eating habits may be a problem.
This is often the time that people tend to adopt unhealthy habits like drugs, alcohol, shopping, or binge eating. If you’ve started on any of these or similar habits, it’s generally a warning sign that you may be burned out.
10. Physical Health Changes
Excessive stress and burnout often manifest as physical conditions. These could be anything from a rash breaking out or headaches to gastric or cardiovascular problems. Your body uses these conditions as a way to warn you of danger, so pay attention to the message. A simple change now could potentially save your life later.
11. Withdrawing from Everyday Life
We live in a time where having an introverted nature is best for you and those around you. We should note, however, that this is also one of the burnout symptoms. If you find yourself withdrawing from everyday life more than usual, you’re heading toward hermit territory. Get out of your shell and embrace the world around you.
How to Deal With Work-From-Home Burnout:
Now that you know the signs to look out for, here are a few tips for how to deal with burnout. Ensure that you adjust your routine accordingly to start taking better care of yourself. These basic steps are a great place to start.
1. Take Control of What You Can
Evaluate your work and home responsibilities for a clear picture of what you need to focus on. If need be, create an outline of your job description. This will help you identify the areas that need your attention most and gain control of your time and energy.
Once you’ve taken inventory of your responsibilities and have taken back control, ensure that you maintain it. Try to stay focused on the tasks at hand and avoid taking on anything that goes beyond your abilities. Stretching yourself too thin is the first step on the journey back to burnout.
2. Talk to Your Boss
We cannot stress the importance of this step enough. If your workload is too much, then talk to your boss about reducing it. Alex Lysak, the CEO of Scanteam, highlights how crucial an open dialog is in any company’s success, especially when teams work remotely. Inform your boss of your current situation and devise a plan together to overcome this hurdle. If you know what changes you need to see an improvement, don’t be afraid to ask for it. Your boss will appreciate your honesty and you’ll be on a better path.
3. Create Boundaries and a Routine For Work
Creating boundaries for home and work is probably the most crucial step to take. If you have children at home, help them understand that your attention cannot fully be on them. You also should adopt the mindset that just because your office isn’t at home, doesn’t mean that you always have to work.
Some people believe that your external environment reflects your internal state. If this is true for you, then putting everything in order around you will help you regain a sense of control over your situation. Create a dedicated work area for yourself.
When you leave that space, you leave work behind. As if you were in the office, create a typical routine for yourself. This will ensure that you complete your tasks in a timely fashion and don’t get caught in an endless rat race.
4. Schedule “Me Time” Every Day
Scheduling some time for yourself should be an essential part of every day. Pursue a new skill that you’ve always wanted to learn or spend some time enjoying your favorite hobby. It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as the focus is on yourself instead of anyone or anything else.
Don’t be afraid to take yourself on a date and enjoy your own company for a while. Sometimes all you need after a long day is a few minutes to reflect on what’s happening in your life and gather your thoughts.
5. Connect With Someone
Whether you’ve already withdrawn from those around you, or find yourself heading in that direction, this is the ideal way to turn things around. Set up a regular coffee date with your friends or family, go for a morning walk with a neighbor, or set up a playdate for your kids. These are fantastic ways to stay connected with the people in your life and build new relationships.
Work Smarter Not Harder
Work from home burnout may not sound like a big deal, but it can have some devastating results. Familiarise yourself with the warning signs and pay close attention to where you’re at.
Since you don’t have colleagues around to point out changes in behavior, you should be more vigilant. Exercise some self-discipline and set clear boundaries. At the end of the day, your health is the most vital thing.
Author's bio: Alex Lysak is the CEO of ScanTeam. I have been working in online marketing since 2011, my main areas of expertise are marketing research, social media marketing, and SEO. During 9 years of experience, I have helped many products and startups to develop marketing strategies and to implement them further.