COVID-19 has forced many American companies to transition their workforce to remote operations. While working from home offers added flexibility and comfort, it can be difficult for employees to maintain healthy boundaries between work and home. And, since employees aren’t working alongside coworkers who can identify burnout symptoms, managers need to be extra vigilant in spotting and resolving professional burnout explains Forbes. Below are common burnout symptoms to watch for and strategies for resolving the issue.
What is burnout?
Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress, according to HelpGuide.
What causes burnout?
Burnout occurs when employees feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet demands. As companies transitioned to remote operations earlier this year, employers feared productivity would decrease due to distractions within the home (children, pets, laundry, cooking, etc.). In reality, underperformance is not the issue – overperformance is what is hindering quality output from remote employees, explains Forbes. Over two–thirds, or 69 percent, of remote employees are experiencing crippling burnout symptoms according to a July 2020 survey. This is a 20 percent increase from May 2020.
Burnout symptoms to watch for
The global pandemic brings additional stressors and challenges to working Americans, all while managing family and job responsibilities. Due to the added worry and stress, two-thirds of remote employees are lacking energy and focus. Watch for these burnout symptoms in yourself and coworkers:
- Working overtime: Employees are working longer hours and not taking time off to recharge, fearing they could be the next layoff if they don’t work hard enough, explains CNBC. Even if an employee is confident in their job security, on average, remote U.S. employees are working 3 hours longer per day than their in-office counterparts, even without supervision or incentives, according to a recent Martech study.
- Increased financial stress: When employees are worried about providing for their families, a shift in work ethic happens. Distracted employees lead to low productivity and engagement where focus is critical.
- Declining performance and lack of interest: While the brain is under a constant state of stress, it becomes easy to lose ambition and responsibility, says Forbes. Employees on the verge of burnout are likely finding it difficult to focus, be patient with others, feel pride in their accomplishments, and neglecting usual self-care habits.
How to avoid burnout
- Set a routine: Working from home is all about mental preparation, suggests CNN. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends sticking to your usual routine as best as possible to help reduce stress and anxiety. This means getting up at the same time, showering, and preparing for the day ahead.
- Set office hours: One of the biggest challenges when working from home is the separation between work life and home life. While you may have a hefty workload, it is recommended to maintain regular work hours. When it’s time to sign off, declare an end to your day and stick to it – turning the computer off and walking away is a good strategy.
- Take time off: Schedule PTO to fully unplug and recharge. You don’t have to travel for the occasion – a relaxing staycation will help you feel refreshed when it’s time to log on again.
- Find a hobby: Discover new interests and passions to balance intense work periods. Whether it’s cooking, exercise, art, or music, giving your brain something else to think about will reduce feelings of job-related stress.
- Be honest with your manager: You won’t overcome feelings of burnout by staying silent. It is important for employees to communicate feelings of overwhelm and for employers to respond with support and solutions to help avoid burnout.