Taking your own breaks and space, setting up a home office, maintaining a balanced work routine: the tips for avoiding stress when working remotely seem quite simple. Yet putting them into practice can sometimes be difficult, with significant psychological and physical consequences.
We are talking about what has been called WFH Burnout (Working From Home Burnout), an increasingly widespread problem.
The most obvious symptoms are very similar to those of depression (with which it is often associated) and manifest as long periods of fatigue, restlessness, irritability, anger or sadness. In some people, exaggerated and repeated behaviour can also be noted, such as heavy weight gain, drastic dieting, alcohol or drug abuse, or fitness obsessions.
According to some studies WFH Burnout affects up to 69% of remote workers, especially those who had to deal with it for the first time during the pandemic.
The reasons can be of different kinds, but can be summarised in the following 5 points:
- Lack of separation between work and private life
- Unsustainable workload
- Anxieties about safety in the workplace
- Lack of support or esteem from superiors
- Lack of control over work management
Such situations have productivity-related consequences. In 2020, 48% of employees at real estate giant JLL said they worked best from home; by 2021 this figure had fallen to 37%.
More and more people are asking their companies for a hybrid approach in order to divide the working week equally between home and office. But onlY a few have already adopted this solution.
Corporate culture as a tool to avoid WFH Burnout
When your employees are all over the world, how do you stay connected? How do you build the relationships that are crucial for productivity and collaboration?
Good corporate governance is the first step in promoting psychological well-being.
At the highest level (CEO, ownership, HR, etc.) there are two main factors to work on: listening to employees (e.g. by allowing different forms of work, such as the hybrid workplace) and designing infrastructures that make everything work smoothly both in and out of the office.
This includes digital tools, social areas and flexible spaces that allow everyone to work from the office when needed.
At a managerial level, the biggest challenge is to keep the ‘team spirit’ alive, limiting differences in treatment between remote workers and office staff. We’ve already written an in-depth article about this.
Avoiding (or limiting) Burnout from working from home
The tips for solving or limiting burnout may seem trivial, but they aren’t always put into practice. If you have been working remotely for many months, here is a small reminder. Limit video conferences – How many meetings did you attend when you worked in the office every day? Limit video calls in the same way, by moving activities that allow it to your phone or email.
- Check your calendar – Working from home doesn’t mean being available 20 hours a day. Block out lunch breaks and time off from work in your calendar (preferably shared with colleagues), and don’t approve meetings at non-working hours.
- Get some fresh air – Carve out at least 15 minutes a day for a walk/jog or simply relax somewhere outside your home.
- Ask for help– Contact HR or a professional if working remotely starts to become an unbearable burden: one’s own strength isn’t always enough!