Working from home has taken workplaces by storm. A 2022 survey of over 25,000 Americans found that 58% have the opportunity to work from home at least 1 day a week, while 35% have the option to WFH all 5 days per week.
Since our inception in 2019, our team has been 100% remote. While many people prefer working remotely, sometimes work life bleeds into home life too easily. This puts employees at real risk of suffering burnout and other mental health issues.
Let’s explore some ways any employee can prevent burnout while working from home!
Are You More Prone to Burnout Working From Home?
Working from home is great for many people. It provides greater flexibility, cuts down on commuting time, and most people find they are more productive in their home environment. However, it would be careless to say that it eliminates burnout. In fact, due to its unique circumstances, the risk of burnout comes from different places.
With your laptop right there, it's more difficult to put work away.
In an office setting, it can be easier to “leave work at work” simply because of the physical distance. In a WFH setup, leaving work might mean closing your laptop, and turning from one screen to another. Moreover, if your laptop is right there, it can be more difficult to put work away, or even catch yourself doing personal activities during work. Both of these can lead to burnout.
When you allow work to permeate into your home life, your work-life balance can degrade, which leads to burnout. However, it can also be easier to set healthy boundaries around work at home.
What Can You Do About It?
Tackling burnout at home means establishing healthy boundaries between your work and personal life, and making all-around healthy decisions.
Prioritize your Self-Care
Taking care of yourself is one of the most essential parts of preventing burnout and essential to life in general. It’s a crucial skill to learn for your mental health and contentment to fight burnout as well as mental illnesses like depression. It’s important to note, depression and burnout are different. Learn to recognize the signs of depression and for serious mental health concerns, it's best to contact a medical professional.
Often, burnout happens when you prioritize your work life ahead of your own. Because of this, it’s important you know the signs of burnout so that you can notice when it’s starting to take its toll on you. Setting aside time for self-care is one of the best ways you can help yourself tackle burnout.
At home, the challenge of self-care is different than in an office but should be easier for you. While it can be easier to take a break, it can also be more tempting to use that time to get housework or other distractions, instead of taking that time to refocus your mind. Use your break time to rejuvenate yourself!
Spend a few minutes reading a book or something else that isn’t looking at a screen. Be sure to get up and away from your desk, even if you just go across the room. Taking this time to focus on your self-care will keep you focused throughout the day and will also help mitigate the risk of suffering burnout.
Use your break time to rejuvenate yourself!
Have a Morning Routine
Going into an office, you probably had a much more regimented routine. You’d need to put on work clothes, eat a quick breakfast, hop in your car, and listen to a podcast as you wait in traffic for an hour. At home, you might find yourself rolling out of bed and opening your laptop before you’ve even brushed your teeth in the morning.
However, that morning routine can help you create a stronger mental boundary between home life and work. While that extra hour of sleep is tempting, use the time before you log on in the morning to get ready for work. Take your coffee outside, put on comfy work clothes, or even take a quick drive around the block to feel like you’re going somewhere.
Set Your Office
While you no longer have a cubicle where people take your favorite red stapler or a desk among many, having a set office space is important for preventing burnout at home. If you have the luxury and space, dedicate a room solely for your work. A true home office, used only for work with a door you can close, is the ideal place to keep your remote job. Creating boundaries between your work life and your home life can help you to keep them mentally separated.
However, if you don’t have an extra spare room to make into your office, it’s still important to have a dedicated workspace. Mixing your workspace and your relaxation space keeps your brain from ever truly doing either. Don’t work in your bedroom when you can avoid it! A desk in a living room separate from your couch makes a world of difference.
Take a Walk
Getting moving is another way to boost your mental health and your productivity. Completing some kind of workday exercise has been shown to improve your mood, time management, and even how much work you can complete in a day by up to 72%! Moreover, at home, there are so many more ways you can get in your daily steps.
While some offices have gyms, or there might have been one close by, you can access a home gym whenever you want, for however long you need. Practice some wedge shots into your washing machine, or hop on a treadmill for a few minutes. Additionally, you can incorporate exercise while working! A standing desk or under-desk elliptical can also keep you moving without needing to leave your desk.
Another great trend to get you moving during the work day is a lunch walk. After you’ve eaten lunch, taking a nice walk outside can help revitalize your day and prevent the afternoon doldrums. Not only will you get exercise, but you’ll also get some sunshine, and meet your neighbors.
We can all do our part to stay mentally and physically healthy to prevent reaching burnout. But it becomes much more difficult when tasked to spot burnout for a larger team or even an entire workforce. Managers and people leaders aren’t just challenged to keep their own burnout in check, but have the added stress of making sure teams are healthy. Find out how Erudit can help you measure burnout risk, turnover risk, and engagement levels anonymously through artificial intelligence.
At the end of the day, building a healthier team and workplace can help us not only fight burnout, but improve joy and wellbeing for entire organizations.
About the author: Cristina Pérez, one of the psychologists training and developing Erudit's AI, earned her Master’s Degree in Brain and Behavior Research, with a scholarship from the bank Santander Bank and is currently earning her PhD in the use of Artificial Intelligence to Predict the Probable Risk of Burnout.