While working from home undoubtedly has its benefits, there can be some downsides to being away from the office. Our employees are our most important asset and we do as much as we can to ensure they are happy in their job.
With everybody currently working remotely, how can we all avoid remote work burnout and stay productive, happy and healthy?
‘Mindfulness’ might feel like an on-trend buzzword, but it appears there really is something to this centuries-old concept. For the uninitiated, mindfulness is the act of being completely present. In busy working lives it is easy for the day to run away without really pausing to assess thoughts and feelings. Practicing mindfulness regularly, with activities such as meditation and breathing exercises, can help realign focus and allow us to calmly manage stress and anxiety – two of the biggest complaints of people who are finding it challenging to work from home.
When working from home all week, it might seem harder than usual to justify taking a few days’ holiday, particularly in a lockdown environment when there is nowhere to go. Employees have naturally taken fewer holidays in 2020, so much so that the government has recently increased the amount of annual leave that can be carried over into the next two years. Having a break from staring at a computer screen is important for mental wellbeing and reducing risk of burn out even if there is nowhere to go.
The problem with working from home is that it can be difficult to draw a line between work and leisure. This is why a daily schedule is so important. If you have set working hours, resist the urge to work outside of these. Take time off at lunchtime and get outside, particularly as the weather improves. It is also worth setting up a dedicated workspace (if you have space) that you can step away from at the end of the day to draw a line between work and leisure spaces.
One of the benefits of remote working is that you have more control over how, when and where you work. So sometimes it can be a good idea to freshen things up. If you have some working day flexibility, try starting work an hour earlier and finishing earlier – or have a line in and work late one day a week. Routine is great for home working, but tinkering with the pattern from time to time can have a positive impact on productivity, creativity and mental health.
If you feel you are starting to become burned out, talk to your employer. Any responsible business will be keen to support remote workers who may need help dealing with stress, particularly if the business is new to managing a remote workforce. Remote working can be challenging and not everyone finds the transition easy. While it might feel daunting to seek help, being open will give your employer the best opportunity to address any issues and make positive changes.