We have all come out of 2020-21 a little worse for wear, but an increasing number of people are doing worse than before, specifically after months and months of working from home (WFH). It’s known as WFH burnout – but what is it, and how can it be cured?
Workplace stress has always been around, but since the global pandemic hit, the stats around the wellbeing of the workforce changed dramatically, with employees’ mental distress during the pandemic 49% higher compared to the years 2017-2019.
60% of Brits worked from home during the pandemic. It’s true that working from home initially created an uptick in productivity, since employees could suddenly roll out of bed and be at their virtual office instantly. No toilsome commute, no work time wasted by chit-chat (or gossip, good and bad) with your office mates and constantly being interrupted by people coming and going. And nobody missed the infamous meetings that could have been an email.
It turned out that actually, working during those extra hours didn’t do wonders for anyone’s mental health. It made it harder to switch off and maintain clear boundaries between home life and work life. Many of us worked into the evening, with the guilty feeling that we didn’t have the right to log out. That commute was starting to look quite nice, in retrospect…
On top of that, all contact with other people was now done via Zoom and email. Watching your colleagues on a screen might have been amusing for the first week, but that soon wore off, especially if the yoga class and the Friday night drinks were also on the same platform.
So WFH was clearly the only option when the world locked down during the Covid-19 pandemic. And the transition to online work and study has saved us from full societal collapse. But it still has its cons, and one of them is WFH burnout.
This can be summarised as extended feelings of exhaustion and reduced work ability, which don’t go away with normal rest periods.
Workplace burnout has actually been added to the ICD-11 (International Classification of Diseases) and has been described as resulting from ‘chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed’. It presents as ‘feelings of energy depletion’, ‘increased mental distance from one’s job’, ‘reduced professional efficacy’, among other diagnostic symptoms.
WFH burnout is a particular subcategory of this workplace burnout, since it has some unique causes and effects.
So what should we look out for when we are concerned about WFH burnout in ourselves or a colleague?
The causes are fairly easy to describe, since they will be familiar to the majority of people who have worked from home within the past eighteen months. They include working longer hours than before; developing unhealthy WFH habits such as fewer breaks and shorter lunches; as well as difficulty switching off after the workday is finished – that is, inability to stop thinking about work. One of the most difficult aspects of WFH burnout for many is the loneliness resulting from lack of social contact.
The resulting effects will be a general cynicism or negativity about work. There is a persistent feeling of reduced ability – you’re not performing like you normally would. You find yourself avoiding work and procrastinating, not sometimes but most of the time. And when you do work, it is delayed and you are missing deadlines.
We highly recommend you look seriously into co-working or flexible workspaces if you’re suffering with WFH burnout. Co-working spaces offer the best of both remote working and social office space.
There is currently a huge surge in people opting to work from a co-working space as their needs require a hybrid of working from home and an office that is unique to them. Collaborative spaces have been around for a few years, but have really come into their own recently, with the majority of the workforce contemplating flexible work for the first time.
Here are some of the proven benefits of co-working to avoid burnout while working remotely.
Providing a structured workspace that remains flexible and tailor-made, co-working contributes to avoiding WFH burnout among employees and freelancers.
Our locations have all been risk-assessed and undergone deep cleaning and sanitation, enabling professionals to safely return to our workspaces with peace of mind.
If you’re interested in breaking the cycle of WFH burnout, then drop us a line, we would be delighted to show you around any of our Areaworks locations. Or if you’re still at the considering stage, reach out to us with your questions and we’ll be happy to answer them.