As we enter December of the longest year ever, many work-from-home employees are starting to struggle with keeping themselves engaged and motivated. And we don’t blame you! 2020 has proven to be a difficult year financially, physically, and mentally, making it even more important to implement balanced work-from-home practices.
Employee burnout affects 58% of employees, with 35% of them saying it is attributable to COVID-19 circumstances. This level of burnout is problematic for both the individual and the larger organization and will only increase as the pandemic continues. There is a persistent need to find ways to make workloads sustainable, including the following strategies:
1. Maintaining physical and social norms
It’s important to maintain your physical and social transition from personal to work mode. Physical indicators that the workday is starting could include showering, putting on your work clothes, or commuting to a work environment. Social indicators are also important to implement and can include things like, saying goodbye to your loved ones for the day or starting the day with a check-in with coworkers. Even if you just walk around the block as your “commute” or say goodbye to your spouse before closing the office door, this will help signal a mental shift from “me time” to “work time”. The more you can incorporate these indicators in your work-from-home circumstance, the easier it will be to mentally engage in work-life tasks.
2. Create spatial and temporal boundaries
Distinguish when and where you work and separate it from your personal time and spaces. While sticking to a 9 to 5 schedule is more difficult during the pandemic, especially as childcare responsibilities or desire to exercise during daylight hours has increased, designating a strict schedule for work hours, however that looks for you, will help prevent burnout. For example, try scheduling peak work hours during your child’s nap time or before your significant other wakes up.
One key trick to establishing temporal boundaries is to automatically set “out-of-office” blocks in your scheduling software. These blocks could be used in a number of ways, including for your loved ones to signal a “do not disturb” message.
3. Focus on the most important work
Work-from-home employees often feel compelled to portray themselves as extremely productive, leaving them to devote more time to work than they would in-person. This includes prioritizing short-term, immediate projects rather than more important long-term tasks. Working all the time on these types of projects will only hurt you and your motivation long-term.
Prioritizing is everything. If you give busy work the same amount of time and energy as top-priority work, you will burnout in no time. To prevent this, try setting aside time devoted only to work rather than trying to fit small work-tasks into your nightly movie or while your partner is making dinner. On average, employees are only productive for about 3 hours. Setting your schedule around this will help you prevent burnout.
With offices, schools, and restaurants constantly being shut down, COVID-19 has truly altered our distinctions between work and home life. Thousands of employees have had to adapt to a work-from-home environment that may not be the most conducive to long-term success. By following the above strategies, you can make your work-from-home environment sustainable and avoid burnout!