Before the COVID-19 pandemic, I was under the impression that working from home would be simpler and free up a decent amount of time, but golly was I wrong! While we may be saving time on some things while working from home, such as commuting, packing lunch and getting ready for work in the mornings, it seems as though the work-from-home employees may tend to work longer hours while at home. These employees are working longer hours and putting in more time than they would have if they were still commuting into the office every day. While an increase in productivity is great and all companies love to see their employees putting in extra effort, this can, sometimes, result in “burn out”.
Rather than finishing up a days’ tasks at 5:00 PM, as workers typically would have done when working from the office, employees are continuing to work. While this may be increasing productivity, it can also have a negative effect on employee morale, motivation, and energy level. Essentially, it is causing employees to “burn out” too quickly. Something companies do not want to see is the energy levels of their employees dwindling. In the long run, this could result in lower production and performance rates.
The “burn out” feeling that remote employees may experience might not be solely caused by “working from home” but rather in combination with the other major stressors going on at the present time. There are a number of things that can affect one’s stress and energy levels, such as: lack of social interaction, lack of physical exercise, the feeling of having no control, financial stress, worry about one’s health and the health of loved ones and looking after children and monitoring their schoolwork. These are just some examples of common factors, combined with the stress of working, that can result in employee burnouts.
It is harder for people working remotely to disconnect from work at exactly 5:00 PM (or whenever his/her workday ends) because there is no actual “leaving the office”. Your home is now also your office. Perhaps it is the lack of distinction between home and work that is causing employees to work these extra hours, checking emails during dinner, taking work-related phone calls all night long and logging back on at night to finish off a few things. While increased productivity is always a wonderful thing, it is not worth it when it comes at the price of one’s mental health. Treat the workday as you would if you were still in the office. Clock out for lunch, get up occasionally, to stretch and try your best to end your day at a reasonable time. Leave your work at the office, so to speak. Draw the line between work and home and make sure that your evenings are filled with some much-needed personal time, family time and time for just catching up on daily tasks.
It is important that work-from-home employees create the distinction that separates home from the “office” so that he/she can compartmentalize and stay fresh and full of energy during one’s regular workday hours, especially in times as difficult as these.
By Kristen Coutsouros | People Science Talent Advisor