Millions of workers around the world have made a sudden transition from office-based to remote work amid the Covid-19 pandemic. This has caused some employers to be concerned about maintaining the productivity of their employees. However, there is another area that they should be more concerned about, which could have a longer-term risk in their business and that is employee burnout.
Remote work burnout and pandemic
Global online employment platform Monster surveyed in July and they found that more Americans are more burned out while working from home as the Covid-19 pandemic stretches on. Almost 69% of employees surveyed are experiencing burnout symptoms from the work setup that used to be a perk but is not treated as a form of survival. The International Labor Organization shows that businesses and workers are facing catastrophe in both developing and developed economies. A total of 81% of the global workforce of 3.3 billion people have had their workplace partly or fully closed.
Monster likewise shows despite work from home (WFH) burnout, 59% of employees are taking less time off than they normally would and 42% of those working remotely are not planning to take any time off to unwind. Career expert Vicki Salemi said via CNBC that although the remote work setup may have offered employees a break from office structure, their regular daily routine, and commute, it is equally important for them to have a mental break from technology and their work in itself.
The World Health Organization defines burnout as a syndrome resulting from chronic workplace stress characterized by feelings of energy depletion, exhaustion, cynical or negative feelings related to a job, and reduced professional efficacy.
Juggling work and home life
Top in the list of the stress of those who work from home is their kids who are also stuck at home because of summer camp and school closures. Not to mention there is financial anxiety. Although they still have a job, they are also facing a threat that they could also have their salary cut or lose their paycheck if the recession will continue. This was according to Melissa L. Whitson, an associate professor of psychology at the University of New Haven. She said there is an added pressure to the employee to continue making money now or show that they are a good employee so that the company will keep on working with them.
Licensed psychotherapist Bryan E. Robinson, Ph.D. opined that one can’t cure burnout by working fewer hours, slowing down, or taking an extended vacation. The moment it takes hold, one feels more than mere fatigue. The solution to burnout is prevention. It means good work-life balance and self-care to stop burnout before it hits home.
A survey of 1,5000 respondents conducted by Mental Health America (MHA) and FlexJobs further show that 40% experienced burnout during a pandemic and 37% are working longer hours than usual ever since the pandemic started. Listed as the top way to offer support is having flexibility in their workday (56%) followed by offering mental health days or encouraging time off (43%).
The survey likewise found that 47% of those unemployed and 42% of those employed say their stress levels are currently very high or high. The majority (76) agreed that workplace stress is affecting their mental health, such as some are suffering anxiety or depression. Fifty-one percent of respondents said they had the emotional support they need at work to manage their stress and some were even eager to attend virtual mental health solutions offered in their workplace, like desktop yoga (32%), meditation sessions (45%), and virtual workout classes (37%).
Key tips to create healthier remote cultures
Robinson suggests burnout prevention tips for remote workers. One is by developing boundaries. He said that it is a challenge for remote workers because they can never really be physically away from their work. Yet, they can develop actual barriers between their personal and work life. For instance, they can have a dedicated workspace that they can leave and join from time to time. When they’re done with work, they can put their laptop in a closet or drawer. The key is to begin and end the workday with some kind of ritual that will signal the brain that it is already time to change from work to personal or vice versa.
The second tip is to turn off work notifications or email after working hours. Let your manager or teammates know when they can expect you. Create a general schedule so your coworkers are not left wondering when you’re off the clock.
During work time, focus on work instead of allowing personal things to steal too much of your work hours. It will be easier to end the day feeling accomplished and not be tempted to open your computer again to finish something if you completed what you need to finish during your scheduled work hours. Robinson also recommends taking a mental health screen. Online screening is one of the easiest and quickest ways to know if you’re experiencing symptoms of mental health issues.
Career burnout: statistics
Time tracking platform Clockify shares that 79% of adults are familiar with the term “burnout” and its definition. Age also influences whether you’ve had contact with burnout or not. It appears that the older the person is, the less they are aware of burnout as the 60 years old and above group holds the least share of people who have had experience with burnout.
It also found that not all countries are equally affected by work burnout. More than half (57%) of people from the UK, for instance, have experienced burnout. Those from the US (50%) are not doing much better either. Companies don’t seem to be putting enough effort into preventing or dealing with burnout among their workers. Some companies have such programs but they only do it for less than 30 hours (17%), 31-40 hours (23%), 41-50 hours (27%), or 51+ hours (20%).
Enlisted military personnel (72.58 scores) take the lead with the most stressful jobs of 2019 while the diagnostic medical sonographer (5.07) have it the easiest when it comes to stress. Meanwhile, INC.com lists the tech companies that had the most employee suffering from burnout based also on their employee responses. The top in the list is from Credit Karma (70.73). A total of 11,487 app users participated in the survey.
These points may seem less important, especially for workers pressed with deadlines. However, they should also take the time to lead a healthy life. Listen to your body when it’s hungry, thirsty, or sleep-deprived.