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Work from home burnout and how to prevent it?

Work from home burnout and how to prevent it?

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written on August 2020 by Magda Sowierszenko

Getting the balance between work and relaxation has never seemed harder. With all of us being available now at the touch of a button, the click of a mouse, or the ring of a phone it can really be difficult to turn off when you need.

For those of you working from home or remotely, the task can be even more difficult. We just simply don’t have the natural switch of leaving the office and going back home to relax and recoup.

When you stop making the distinction between work and home and begin to push yourself too much, it’s easy to start showing burnout symptoms. Feeling overwhelmed, stressed, and physically and mentally exhausted are all feelings that most of us experience with some form of job burnout.

It’s worth getting to know what to look out for, how to deal with job burnout, and to also understand that it’s a common problem. There is no need to feel like you’re alone in this! In fact, according to a Deloitte study 84% of millennials self-reported that they had experienced some form of burnout in their current job. 

How to recognize burnout

Everyone experiences stress at work, but knowing when you have reached the burnout stage can be difficult to tell. Some stress is good and in fact good for us to produce the best quality work we can. But too much of it is a bad thing. Here’s what you should keep an eye out for as symptoms of job burnout:

  1. Disillusionment with your work
  2. A reduction in your feeling of accomplishment
  3. Exhaustion mentally and physically

These are all strong signs that you must be suffering from job burnout and not just work related stress.

Burnout can also lead to ill effects on your health, which is bad for you and bad for any employer. You may even start to turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms such as food, alcohol, or even drug abuse to manage the feelings you have.

When you’ve reached this point, you should turn to a health professional to help you begin feeling better again. Your employer should also know how you’re feeling and come up with new work arrangements to combat burnout. Don’t try to tackle it all by yourself. There is help out there and it’s highly recommended that you use it where available.

Why are remoters more susceptible to burnout?

We briefly touched on the subject earlier that remote professionals are unfortunately more unlikely to suffer from burnout. But why is this? There really are multiple reasons here which can lead to us feeling overburdened.

Unfortunately, some of the strengths and benefits of not working in the office can also create the perfect storm of becoming stressed and distant from our work. Perhaps one of the best-known benefits for remote work is increases in productivity from remoters. But this ultimately can also come at a price.

Many of us have the skill to work from almost anywhere as long as we have a laptop and internet connection. Your local cafe, hotel lobby, or even beach spot if you’re lucky can become a productive hub of work. But here is where the key issue lies.

When anywhere can become your office, it’s difficult to create spaces that don’t feel like the office!

If you get a call asking for you to do something and you just so happen to have your laptop in your bag, it becomes tempting to start work whenever and wherever you are. If you’re working from home, then the line between relaxation and work becomes blurred too. If you’re travelling and working it’s also the same. Add on top the extra stress that airports, hotels, accommodation, and the digital nomad life brings, then you get a real recipe for overworking and ultimately experiencing burnout.

We also need to think about the support network that people working in an office naturally have. A quick 5-minute coffee break with your colleagues can really help you after a stressful meeting. After work drinks or social events also help you to unwind. But if you’re working from home it’s a lot more difficult for any of these things to happen organically.

So how do we make sure your remote job doesn’t lead to burnout?

Working outside the office has a lot of benefits and perks that people are dying to have. For many, it really is a dream to be free from the office and lead a more flexible life.

When you strategize and plan, avoiding burnout can be fairly easy and in fact these tips can improve your whole work life balance. You just need to be firm in your decisions, and not fall into the temptation of making your whole life one long shift at work. 

  • Set boundaries for yourself and your employer. This should include when you work, what breaks you are entitled to, and when things should really be off limits. Part of the joy of working remotely is being able to organize your schedule how you see fit. But of course there is some give and take with your employer too. Doing the occasional overtime or tasks on the weekend is OK when necessary, but it should never become the norm. 
  • Make sure you take an actual break away from your computer. Perhaps you make a coffee or tea, or maybe even go for a walk. Physical exercise is a great way to give your head a bit of space, get some fresh air, and remove yourself from the work situation.
  • Make sure to use your holiday days and take the occasional break. It may only even be just one day where you can fully relax, have a long weekend, or get stuck into your favourite netflix series. We all need some days to help keep our mental health on track and not overwork. 
  • Find the time to connect with people around you, or even digitally if you need. If you’re travelling, there are plenty of opportunities to get out there and meet new people. If you’re working from home, family and friends always appreciate some extra time if you’ve been working hard. Online communities are also there where you can find people interested in the same hobbies as you. What’s important here is having meaningful interactions with people that you actively want to engage with, and not just your teammates.
  • Find the time to develop yourself further and work towards your goals. A certain amount of time should go towards developing professionally, and not doing so is an easy way to eventually lead to burnout. It can feel like all your efforts are benefitting your employer, but it shouldn’t be this way. If you work on and improve yourself, you’re actively increasing your own self worth.
  • Join a virtual coworking space to help connect you with other like minded individuals. Not everyone is able to find a physical space near them, but a virtual coworking space can help provide you with the community feeling that you may be missing. Bouncing ideas off others, taking time to socialize, and joining events to develop your skills are great ways of getting out of your work bubble.

Work from home burnout doesn’t have to be so common

Remote work is becoming increasingly popular, and we’ve already seen a lot change this year with so many people having to work from home for the first time. As we all become more experienced and knowledgeable with remote work, we can only hope that things like burnout begin to be seen less often. In the meantime, by following our tips above you can already begin to avoid job burnout yourself and notice the symptoms before it’s too late. 

For us at Remote-how, we know how damaging it can be if left untreated. With our Virtual Coworking, we’re looking to support other remote professionals and provide the support that they need in developing themselves and setting clear boundaries about how they work.

Whether you need someone to chat with, a new social circle to relax with, or a place where you can work with other like-minded individuals, it’s worth checking out what we have to offer here. Together we can all make the most of remote work and most importantly stay happy and healthy!

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