Work-Life Balance, which has always been a concern in corporations, has assumed new proportions during the Covid-19 Pandemic. In the initial days, what was considered fun has now become a great problem.
About 62% of employees of the country are working from home now, and a whopping 69% of these agreed to no work-life balance leading to signs of burnout.
Suddenly the everyday To-Do tasks seem to have doubled as there are various additional tasks which have to be performed for home too.
Symptoms of Burnout
- Losing track of commitments
- Failure to complete work on time and energy depletion
- Experiencing mood swings such as restlessness, depression, or frustration
- Experiencing hopelessness, lack of interest, feelings of negativism
- Feeling Disappointed or uninterested in your job.
- Having difficulty falling asleep, insomnia, or getting a good night’s sleep
- Resorting to alcoholism.
- Chest pain, headaches, heart palpitations, dizziness or fainting, or stomach pain are examples of physical symptoms.
Work From Home Burnout is Real – Causes?
1.You are never disconnected
Have you noticed your first activity in the morning? Sometimes even before you get out of bed, you check the phone for whatsapp messages and emails. The same is repeated before you close your eyes at night. So when do we close the office? We sleep and wake up with all the anxieties of the office. Eight hours of office work has increased to 15 hr of usual activity now.
Yes, the phone and laptop were there earlier too. But at least we gave ourselves some time to complete all the house chores and morning commute. But now we have become the work. A meaningless, emotionless entity that carries on and on, keeping every other aspect of life on hold. It has a devastating effect, it is having on our mind and body.
2.Inspiration is Gone
So what happens with this mindless staring at mobile screens? Most of the respondents agree that they read all the emails in the morning without taking any action. They are again read after a gap of a couple of hours. Sometimes even 4 to 5 times in a day. But not acting on these. An emotional paralysis hits us, and we are devoid of taking any action. That inspiration and enthusiasm to move things forward is gone. Not that we don’t want to respond, but yes, this is a burnout symptom.
3. Where is the support?
While each action, reaction, announcement, mail, and strategy is discussed while in office, not with one but with a whole team sometimes. Not at home. With whom can you discuss any of these? Even going for a coffee in the office, you pulled a friend along. But now every decision is your own. Colleagues are still a call away, but for every issue, you cannot keep calling them. This particular aspect of work from home can be very stressful for some.
Tips to Avoid Work From Home Burnout
1. Maintain Physical & Social Boundaries
When you visited the office every day, you had two avatars. One in your personal life, of a husband/father/brother and the other as a Senior/Executive/Manager/CEO, which is related to our office. There were fixed hours for each avatar. Every morning you transitioned from one to the other and changed back to the morning avatar in the evening. You stopped this with social distancing started.
It needs to start again. Get up, get dressed up for your office at the proper time. Have a stroll around your apartment block or maybe within your flat only. Then start your day. Repeat the same in the evening too.
When we floated this idea among our subject personas, some were already doing it. They also admitted that they feel more refreshed in the morning when they start like this. They also have their evening tea after they have changed into the house attire, which signals that the office is closed now.
2. Maintain Temporal Boundaries
In a home atmosphere, when a toddler is to be taken care of or a father is sick, this might be not easy, but trying to stick to it is quite helpful for the colleagues. If you are not available for a particular time, you can announce it through an “Out of Office ” response or announcing beforehand that you will be slow to respond from 7 pm to 10 pm. Managers and leaders can play a vital part in making this company culture.
A very good initiative taken by a certain office is a virtual coffee break when all employees can meet on-line.
3. Important vs Urgent
This has taken on an entirely new meaning in the WFH culture. In the maximum cases discussed, taking up and finishing the important task is a better decision than considering an urgent task. If the importance has become urgent, it is because we were taking up only urgent tasks earlier.
How do you recover from Burnout while Work from Home
In starting our work from home, the only aspect that we have neglected is ourselves. Therefore, we have to start doing all that we can do for ourselves first. That means we have to prioritize, and there are three sets of tasks that we have to prioritize in the following sequence only.
While we can start by giving ourselves a vacation for a week, it will not be a permanent cure. We need to give fixed, non-negotiable time to ourselves like
- Exercise time – A fixed time for exercise. Maybe Yoga, Pranayama, Zumba, HIIT.
- Completing daily chores – As the work starts as soon as we open our eyes, there is no time for these very important daily chores. Therefore, we need to have a fixed time for these. For example, Bathing at 8.30 am.
- Fixed Meals Time – Breakfast 9 to 9.30 Lunch – 1.30 to 3.20 Remember how there used to be a fixed meal time for all office workers. All those who did not break at that time felt left out.
Some tasks give us self satisfaction. The following two are just for that.
- Making our bed – Try this for a couple of days. It is more satisfying than sending that last mail to the client.
- Self Grooming – We have stopped shaving regularly, giving shape to our eyebrows, Staring at those blackheads disgustingly. It would help if you started all that again.
- Meditation – Instead of ending the day with a last look at your phone, give that last half an hour to meditation. Do you realize if you ever get time to meditate in life, it is now? You only have to assign time to it.
2. Domestic Activities
What are the domestic activities you have taken up since the lockdown began, like spending time with ailing parents, playing with a toddler, taking out the doggy for a walk. Fix a time for these tasks and be punctual. These are the tasks that you sometimes do not do due to professional demands and then create friction at home.
3. Professional Activities
You might need to spend more than 8 hrs a day but that is all right one in a while. See if you can fix the hours. Make it known to your office that you are busy certain hours a day, there is time for break and the response will be delayed during that time.
Video calls and virtual meetings with your Boss and client are the biggest culprits. But think about it. Eventually, except for explaining this to your Boss, you do not have an alternative. Either change your Boss or your Boss will lose you. You can also schedule most of the client meeting according to your time splits but only if you and the Boss are on the same page.
Of course, the company HR will have to take the initiative.
How do people working from home handle loneliness
We have always met people, and they befriended them. We are social beings. Of course, loneliness kills, so we need to change according to the times.
Now we also need to discover new ways to be social.
- What happened to the 4.00 pm coffee break in the office? You need to start it again, albeit on a zoom call with your colleagues. That has to be fixed by your company. If it is a big corporation, then a permanent open zoom cafeteria can work wonders where people can connect and start chatting. But make sure it doesn’t turn into another meeting room.
- Make new friends on social media of your choice. You can join a no. of groups on Facebook related to your hobbies, for example.
- Talk to your mother, sister, nephew on the phone.
- Having a pet does wonders.
- Keep changing your workspace. It could be anywhere in the house like a balcony, lobby, hall, on the floor, easy chair, rocking chair etc. No, not the bedroom.
- Talk to your team daily on some other subject except work. How is their domestic life? Are they facing any problems in life? What do they do in the after-hours? Etc.
- If you are more than one at home, make sure to have your meals and coffee/tea together. Tell your wife about your sister’s or even her sister’s phone call. She will love it.
And you won’t feel lonely.