For many, the idea of working from home was a long-held dream. Rolling out of bed at 8.45… avoiding rush-hour traffic… working in tracky dacks… and clocking off at 5 to hit the beach with the dog or spend time with the family. But the reality is, the WFH lifestyle is more exhausting than most had imagined. And a fundamental shift is occurring with many workplaces changing gear to continue this long-term, if not forever in some industries. Why is the WFH lifestyle so tiring and what can we do to avoid work-from-home burnout? It turns out there’s a number of reasons why you’re so exhausted…
But you’re not a virtual girl. Jokes aside, humans are highly intuitive without even realising it. So many signals and cues occur in real life on a subconscious level, yet that don’t translate over email and video conferencing. This means we’re working in overdrive to communicate and interpret those nuances.
Yet psychologists say our brains will adapt. While many may be struggling now, there’s undoubtedly an enormous social shift currently underway and our clever little brains will evolve. Habits form and routines become easier over time.
Yep, even Karen from accounting. One of the best parts of venturing out into the world every day is the incidental interaction with people that aren’t in our usual circle. Whether a workplace bestie, the local barista or that cute guy you always see on the train, being around other people energises us… it’s just human nature.
Address this by reaching out to co-workers via Slack, email or video chats for a few extra minutes to catch up on non-work-related things and check in on each other… talk about your weekend plans or a TV series you’re watching.
You may be the master of multitasking but another 500 things have just been added to the juggle… kids, pets, partners and random door-knockers with clipboards are just a few.
Remind yourself that distractions are normal in the office too and actually help to give you mini-breaks in your focus throughout the day. Avoid work-from-home burnout by scheduling regular breaks in your day, like lunch with the family or a walk in the sunshine.
Moving is essential for both physical and mental health. Even walking to the bus stop in the morning… walking to the coffee shop on your break… walking across the office to the boardroom… all of these steps add up over a day. It’s very easy to find yourself sitting for almost eight hours straight when working from home.
Schedule breaks! Do a lap of the block in your lunch hour or take micro-breaks to do a few reps of the staircase every hour or two. Invest in a stand-up desk. Do some yoga stretches. Just don’t make the ‘get-up break’ an excuse to go and raid the pantry every couple of hours (many of us made this mistake in first weeks of the national lockdown!).
Essential to mental health is the need to maintain some control of life circumstances and surroundings. While previously we may have daydreamed about the hassle-free existence of the WFH lifestyle, the reality doesn’t necessarily add up. Back-to-back Zoom calls, constraints in communication, not being able to put on your power suit, lack of interaction — even missing the staffroom coffee machine! — it all adds up.
Fix this by taking control over this feeling of disorientation by planning out your day. As much as possible, have set meetings, set tasks and set breaks throughout the day.
An unexpected challenge of the video-conferencing lifestyle is seeing yourself, which is frankly exhausting. While you need to maintain your professionalism in virtual meetings, you may also be noticing a tic under your eye or some new strands of grey. This isn’t as self-absorbed as it sounds, it’s simply human nature and tightly bound with your personal identity. We don’t have to deal with the intricacies of our own face in a real-life conference meeting.
Avoid this by avoiding looking at yourself. Some video-conferencing apps, such as Zoom, allow you to minimise the screen so you can only view the person speaking.
Every single one of us in swept up in a cultural shift. Restaurant and café restrictions mean you’re cooking nightly… some schools have been closed and kids need to be taught from home. The news is bombarding us with stats… and businesses are trying to rapidly navigate how to operate in the new world order. On top of this, reports are showing that people are working two to three hours more per day on average, even after midnight! This is so widespread that some large corporations have taken to turning off their servers in the evenings.
While you need to stay on top of things and up-to-date, set boundaries and strict work hours. When you clock off, turn off your computer and work apps. If you’re too exhausted to cook, heat some soup and a premade salad or leftovers in the freezer (you could plan ahead with some family meal prepping on the weekends). Don’t open every email if it’s not necessary. Minimise your exposure to the news to just catch the important headlines, then turn it off and put on some mellow jazz instead, flick through a magazine or take a walk in nature.
The line between professional and personal blurs for those who work from home and now is the time to learn to compartmentalise. Just as when you starting work for the first time or took on a more intense role, you had to learn to adapt and find a work–life balance. A similar shift is occurring in the WFT lifestyle, but it’s the other way around. To avoid work-from-home burnout we have to teach ourselves to live our lives and turn out off workplaces at the end of the day. We have to consciously make time for relaxation.
If you’re looking for ways to create a more comfortable work-from-home environment, visit us in-store or online to check out the latest looks in home office furnishings. And don’t miss our stories on study nook solutions, making your home office a haven and the work-from-home survival guide from a filmmaker and bestselling author who’ve been doing it for years.