How to Avoid Work-From-Home Burnout

If you’re experiencing a lack of energy, reduced professional efficacy, and increased mental distance from or cynicism toward your job, you’re not alone; and you may be suffering from burnout. The World Health Organization has classified burnout as an occupational phenomenon since at least 2019. However, experts suggest that current conditions have precipitated a new and massive wave of work-from-home burnout. Millions of Americans are suffering from the loss of a daily commute and the introduction of an isolated work atmosphere. These and other factors contribute to a greater chance of workplace burnout.

Between March and April of this year, the number of employees citing burnout complaints doubled. It seems very likely that this number has since increased even further. This can cost both employees and businesses in terms of morale and productivity. It can feel like work-from-home burnout is becoming universal and inevitable. The good news? There are ways to avoid, reduce, and even reverse burnout. Here are the top 3, according to experts.

1. Simulate a commute. 

Your daily drive to work is more than just getting from place to place. It’s a mental transition. Commuting gives us an opportunity to mentally prepare for or decompress from the day. If you used to have a 20-minute drive to work every day, the loss of that time is probably affecting you, even if you don’t realize it. Restore that transition time. Try meditating, calling a friend, or listening to a podcast as a way to change your headspace. Any kind of routine could do the trick. Personally, getting outdoors helps me feel as though my workday has boundaries. Even if I just walk around the block in the morning and go to the mailbox in the afternoon, my brain gets that I’m changing “modes.”

2. Take a real day off.

When was the last time you took a day off? With travel restrictions and concerns about layoffs, setting aside personal time can be difficult. In a June survey, nearly a third of workers said they planned to take less time off this summer than they ordinarily would. It can be tempting to save up your time off for a distant future when you’ll actually be able to go somewhere exciting. However, we know that vacation time boosts productivity and job satisfaction.

Don’t let COVID stop you from enjoying a day off. To get the most out of a staycation, make sure you change up your routine in a way that makes your day feel substantively different. Try sleeping in, going to brunch with friends, or going on an outdoor adventure in the middle of the day. If you can go camping or feel comfortable staying at a hotel for a night or two, an out of town trip could be just the ticket. Here are more tips for making quarantine weekends feel different from Wednesdays.

3. Chat with coworkers.

Chances are you’re still communicating with coworkers enough to get work done. But what about shooting the breeze? Odds are you’re not having the daily coffee banter or cubicle chats you used to. Worse yet, limited access to non-work social experiences could be making you feel isolated. Don’t forget to connect with your colleagues on a personal level. Try scheduling a weekly video chat dedicated to having fun. As for me, I challenged my coworkers to an online game of Scattergories

Work-from-home burnout is serious, but it’s not unavoidable. Let us know what you think of these tips in the comments. Want more tips on maximizing your productivity while working from home? Read this.

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Chantelle Gossner

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