Working from home and still feeling burnt out? You are not alone.

COVID-19 has replaced our normal life with routines that we have never ever experienced before. Things we used to take for granted have become a distant reality, and our lives have changed drastically. COVID-19 has caused financial, physical, emotional and mental trauma for most of us. It has also profoundly disturbed the way we carry out our daily routines. It seems very futuristic, but many routine activities are now occurring virtually. Physicians appointments have moved online and so have research studies, fitness instructions and even more personalized services, e.g. hair salons are providing instructions remotely on how to cut your own hair at home.

Work From home burnout

Due to strict travel restrictions, many people were left jobless. Many of the ones who are still working are doing so from home. While on the surface, it looks like people who are working from home are in a better position, saving time and money on commuting.  But not everyone is comfortable with this new arrangement.

Due to the ongoing crisis, both employers and their employees are facing unique challenges. Employers are under much stress, having had to lay off their employees or because they are working at a reduced capacity. On the other hand, employees are also feeling anxious due to the extremely volatile job market.  During the current scenario, a single employee may have to cover the work of other employees who may be sick or laid off. As well, the employees are also feeling the pressure to perform even after office hours, in an attempt to demonstrate to their superiors that they are worthy of the jobs. Due to current physical distancing measures, when whole families are cocooned at home together, creating a dedicated work time is not always possible.

As the stress level has skyrocketed, with the additional financial constraints and physical distancing as challenges, talking about mental health has moved to a back burner.

I have touched upon the topic of burnout for physicians, nurses and caregivers before. However, I believe that it is imperative to address this topic one more time because the current situation is very novel for all of us.

Earlier, many employees were opting for jobs that provided an excellent work-life balance. However, with this global pandemic, the fine line between work-life and personal life has blurred, to the extent that employees are feeling more burnt out now than they were feeling when participating in a regular nine to five job. They have been left without the routines that they were following for such a long time.

Since the second quarter of this year, many employees who were fortunate enough to still have jobs started working from home. However, it was not only the offices that were closed but also all many other institutes and businesses. It ended in dividing employees into two categories, those who found it challenging to work with kids and family disruptions, and others, who were stuck at home alone, with no friends, family or co-workers to talk to. It was a situation for which no one was prepared.

Tips for Employees to avoid work From home burnout

  1. Try to follow your old office schedule even while working from home. Work at the same office hours.
  2. Keep your official and personal contact details separate. It could be as simple as using a different email address for office and personal use so that you don’t access official emails unless it is urgent, during “office” hours.
  3. Talk to your employer about the work situation. You might be feeling responsible for completing all the work now, but your employer can guide you about prioritizing specific tasks over others.
  4. Wear work clothes to give you a sense of normalcy. At the end of your shift, when you change to your other set of clothes, it gives you a sense of an ending of the office hours.
  5. Dedicated space for your home office. It does not have to be elaborate; it can be a small corner from where you concentrate on your work.
  6. Pursue your passion/ hobby during your free time to use your personal time in a fulfilling way. As most of us are stuck home, it is easier to hop on to resume working on office tasks, during your free time, for lack of better options.
  7. A night of good sleep is also vital to make you feel energized and well-rested the next morning.

Tips for Employers

  1. Devise and communicate clear policies on how to approach the “work from home” situation.
  2. If you can, provide mental health care resources.
  3. Keep the communication open.
  4. Be more empathetic to the fact that the situation is new for everyone, and some people might take a little bit more time to adjust to the current circumstances.
  5. Encourage work-life balance even when the employees are working remotely.
  6. Provide more flexible opportunities in terms of work schedule so that the employees can choose a time when they find themselves with minimum distractions
  7. If your employees are working at a different time frame, try to provide a common online platform so that there is no unnecessary disturbance to the employees during their personal time.

Whenever someone says that he/she works from home, they often get a comment on how great their life is. Now with everyone getting the taste of the same medicine, I don’t think people would want to be in the same situation. Many want to go back to their old work routines. No one knows what a post-pandemic workplace will be like, but during this transition period, we can all work together to enhance a mutually beneficial situation for both the employer and employee.


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