Work from Home Burnout? It’s Real, and It’s Common Nowadays

Work from Home Burnout? It’s Real, and It’s Common Nowadays

We’ve heard about ways to avoid burnout in various jobs, but what about burnout when working from home? Here are some things to watch out for and some tips on how to avoid it.

Burnout, simply put, is: feelings of energy depletion on the job, increased mental distance from your job or reduced professional efficacy, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). In fact, last year, the WHO recognized burnout as an official illness.

Burnout can be brought on in a number of ways, but three of the biggest contributing factors are exhaustion, cynicism and inefficacy for your job. As it turns out, burnout is more common than you might think.

In fact, one study conducted by found that:

  • Over a third (36 percent) of respondents said they suffer from burnout every week. This manifests in anxiety (40 percent), exhaustion (44 percent) and stress (56 percent)
  • Over a third (34 percent) of employees take sick days at least every six months due to burnout
  • Over half (55 percent) have considered leaving their job due to lack of support for burnout

But what about burnout while working from home (WFH)? With many workers now working from home, in the middle of the pandemic, while juggling a number of responsibilities, they could be prone to more burnout, says a CNN article.

“With the suddenness and degree of the shift to remote work, the loss of childcare, and all of the worries that accompany the pandemic and its economic fallout, all of the things that typically cause burnout are intensified, which means the risk of burnout is intensified,” said Vanessa K. Bohns, associate professor of organizational behavior at Cornell University via email.

These are the risk factors of burnout:

Boundaries Disappear

You’ve heard it before, and you’ll hear it again: finding a work-life balance is key. You need to learn how to separate your work from your home life, because when those meld together, your brain cannot shut off and rest. If you never really shut down your computer and walk away from work, it’s easy to just continue working into the evenings and weekends.

“What happens to most people when they are working from home is they often work more hours,” said Ben Fanning, author of “The Quit Alternative: The Blueprint for Creating the Job You Love Without Quitting.”

To combat this, you need to set clear boundaries. Cut off time for when you will stop working. It also helps to make non-work time feel different, like changing into more comfortable clothes, to signal a break from work.

A Lack of Control

Many times, burnt out workers feel they have a lack of control over their schedules, interactions and time management. Given the current pandemic, that feeling is all the more common.

It’s best to create a schedule that designates work, family and free time to regain a sense of control.

The Stress of Wanting to Be the ‘Perfect Worker’

The article explains that there has always been a human want to be the perfect worker—which adds to stress. However, with many people working remotely, many feel they need to prove they are not slacking off at home, so they work extra hard to be the ‘perfect worker.’

Plus, with millions of Americans out of work right now, the pressure to prove yourself as an important employee is all the more real.

The best way to combat this is to set expectations with your boss. Clarify what your duties and their expectations are, and then you can be on the same page for what is expected.

Missing Social Connection

Even if you are with your family or loved ones at home, missing social connections is a real factor in the WFH life. There are many benefits to having colleagues to talk to at work, but with many working remotely, people do not have that added social aspect.

Managers should check in regularly with their team members to help prioritize assignments and provide feedback. This can help workers be more involved in the decision-making process and feel like they are contributing to the success of the team.

Plus, now more than ever, you should reach out to friends and loved ones over the phone, Skype or just text to build those connections. Humans are social creatures, and maintaining relationships are important.

Not Taking Time for You

The value of self-care is not discussed enough. Make sure you add small activities that bring you joy to your day. Go for a walk, read a book, cook with your spouse, FaceTime your grandchild—whatever it is, make sure you take time for your own happiness a little each day.

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