How do you cope with Remote Work Burnout in 5 Steps?
Work Burnout,  Remote Work

How do you cope with Remote Work Burnout in 5 Steps?

As more and more people are working remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the risk of burnout has increased.

Burnout is a condition of persistent stress-related physical, emotional, and mental weariness. It can affect one’s motivation, productivity, and general well-being.

A study published by CNBC states that 69% of remote workers are experiencing burnout.

As a seasoned consultant with over 20 years of experience working in managerial roles, I have witnessed and solved several cases of burnout in my career. In this article, I will share my five-step process for coping with remote work burnout, along with real-world academic references to support my recommendations.

How do you combat Remote Work Burnout in 5 Steps?

To combat Remote Work Burnout, there are 5 main steps to be followed:

Step 1: Recognize the Signs of Burnout

Signs of Remote Work Burnout

The first step in coping with burnout is to recognize the signs. These can include both cognitive and somatic symptoms:  Fatigue, headaches, and insomnia, as well as emotional symptoms like anger, anxiety, loneliness, and sadness are among those.

It is crucial to act as soon as you witness any of these symptoms to prevent them from getting worse.

Case Example:

I once worked with a team member who was constantly fatigued and irritable. When I drove deeper, I found out that she was working long hours, skipping breaks, and feeling overwhelmed by her workload. We worked together to set realistic goals, prioritize tasks, and establish boundaries around work hours and break times. As a result of the leverage of our motivated efforts, she managed to lower her stress levels and increased her overall well-being.

Reference: Maslach, C., & Leiter, M. P. (2016). Understanding the burnout experience: recent research and its implications for psychiatry. World Psychiatry, 15(2), 103-111.

Step 2: Practice Self-Care

The second step in coping with Remote Work Burnout is to practice self-care. This is looking after your physical well-being by getting adequate rest ( don’t forget to go to sleep at the same time every night), working out frequently, and eating a healthy diet such as Keto, Mediterranean, or low-calorie diet.

It also entails looking after your mental health by participating in enjoyable pursuits like hobbies or interacting with loved ones.

Case Example:

I once worked with a team member who was experiencing high levels of stress due to a difficult project. We discussed the importance of self-care and she committed to taking a daily walk during her lunch break and scheduling regular social activities with friends outside of work. With these changes, she was able to prevent Remote Work Burnout easily.

Step 3: Set Boundaries

Setting boundaries between business and personal life is one of the hardest aspects of working remotely.

Working from home might make it tempting to put in extended hours, respond to emails in the evenings, or accept calls while having supper.

Burnout, though, may result from this.

To avoid burnout, set clear boundaries between work and personal life. For example, create a designated workspace, set specific work hours, and turn off work-related notifications after hours. Setting boundaries will help you create a work-life balance and reduce stress.

Case Example:

One of my clients was working remotely and felt overwhelmed by the constant emails and calls. She decided to set boundaries by turning off her work phone after 6 pm and not checking emails on weekends. Consequently, she felt more relaxed and created more time slots to spend with her family and friends and her Rottweiler.

Step 4: Manage Expectations

Working from home may be really difficult, particularly when trying to control expectations.

It’s critical to be open and transparent with your boss and coworkers about your workload, deadlines, and availability. Manage expectations by setting realistic goals, prioritizing tasks, and communicating any obstacles or challenges. This will help reduce stress and prevent burnout.

Case Example:

One of my clients was feeling overwhelmed by the workload and was afraid to communicate her struggles with her supervisor. I advised her to have an open and honest conversation with her supervisor about her workload and to negotiate realistic deadlines. She followed my advice and felt more empowered and in control of her workload.

Step 5: Stay Connected

Stay connected by Healthy Office Habits

Working from home can be isolating, which can lead to burnout.

To combat isolation and remote work burnout, stay connected with your coworkers and friends.

Schedule regular virtual meetings or coffee breaks with your telecommuting colleagues. Join a virtual community or group related to your interests. Socializing can reduce stress and help the remote team feel more connected and supported.

Case Example:

One of my colleagues was feeling isolated and disconnected while working remotely. She started attending virtual yoga classes and joined an online community of like-minded professionals. As a result, she felt more connected and supported and was able to cope better with work-related stress.

Healthy Habits for Preventing Burnout when Working Remotely

Healthy Habits for Preventing Burnout when Working Remotely

Working from home can be challenging, and it is essential to develop healthy habits to prevent remote work burnout. Here are some tips and suggestions for developing healthy habits when working remotely:

  1. Establish a routine: Having a routine can help you create a sense of structure and control in your day. Plan your work schedule, breaks, and leisure activities. This will help you prioritize tasks and avoid overworking.

Case Example: One of my clients struggled with a lack of routine while working remotely. She felt disorganized and found it difficult to manage her workload. I suggested she create a daily schedule that included work tasks, breaks, and leisure activities. This helped her feel more in control and focused throughout the day.

  1. Practice mindfulness: Mindfulness can help reduce stress and increase resilience. Spend a few minutes each day ( at least 5 days a week ) engaging in mindfulness exercises like yoga, praying, meditation, or deep breathing. 
Mindfulness by Healthy Office Habits

Reference: The effects of mindfulness on burnout among nursing students: A systematic review and meta-analysis (Bai et al., 2020).

  1. Stay active: Exercise is essential for physical and mental health. Take breaks throughout the day to stretch or engage in physical activity. This can help reduce stress and boost mood.

Case Example: One of my colleagues was feeling sluggish and unproductive while working remotely. She started incorporating short yoga sessions throughout the day and taking walks during her breaks. As a result, she felt more energized and productive.

  1. Take care of your mental health: Working remotely can be isolating and increase feelings of loneliness and anxiety. Maintaining relationships with loved ones by socializing with them, receiving professional assistance if necessary, having a bath, and engaging in self-compassion exercises are all ways to take care of your mental health.

Reference: The relationship between self-compassion and burnout among nurses: A cross-sectional study (Guo et al., 2020).

  1. Create a positive workspace: Your workspace can impact your mood and productivity. Create a positive workspace by ensuring it is comfortable, organized, and free of distractions.
Positive Workspace Remote Work

Case Example: One of my clients was feeling distracted and unmotivated while working remotely. She realized her workspace was cluttered and uncomfortable. She decluttered her workspace and added some plants and natural light. As a result, she felt more focused and productive.

References:

  • The impact of workspace design on the well-being and productivity of knowledge workers: A systematic review of the literature (Dahlgren et al., 2021).
  • The effects of indoor plants on stress, emotion, and cognitive function in a simulated office environment (Lohr et al., 2015).

Bonus Tips for combatting Remote Work Burnout

Bonus Tips for combatting Remote Work Burnout

Here are some bonus tips that can also help combat burnout when working remotely:

  1. Develop assertiveness skills: Being able to assertively communicate your boundaries and needs can help prevent burnout. Practice saying “no” when you are overloaded or need a break, and communicate your needs clearly and assertively.
Just Say No by Healthy Office Habits

Reference: The impact of assertiveness on burnout among healthcare professionals (Mansourian et al., 2019).

  1. Build a support network: Having a support network can help you cope with stress and prevent remote work burnout. Connect with colleagues, friends, and family members who can provide emotional support and encouragement.

Reference: The moderating effect of social support on burnout in hospital nurses (Wang et al., 2019).

  1. Set realistic expectations: Setting unrealistic expectations for yourself can lead to burnout. Be realistic about what you can accomplish in a day or week, and communicate your workload and timeline with your supervisor or team.

Reference: Managing expectations: A key to avoiding burnout in healthcare (Bryan & Baker, 2017).

  1. Practice self-care: Self-care activities, such as taking breaks, getting enough sleep, and engaging in enjoyable activities outside of work, can help prevent burnout.

Reference: The effectiveness of self-care interventions in reducing burnout among healthcare professionals: A systematic review and meta-analysis (Wu et al., 2020).

  1. Address conflicts and concerns: Unresolved conflicts and concerns can contribute to burnout. Address conflicts or concerns as soon as they arise, and seek support from a supervisor, colleague, or HR if necessary.

Reference: Resolving conflict in the workplace: A necessary step to address burnout (Kamarajah et al., 2021).

Key Takeaways:

Remote work burnout is a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion caused by prolonged stress that can lead to a decrease in productivity, motivation, and overall well-being.

To cope with remote work burnout, it is important to recognize the signs, practice self-care, set boundaries, manage expectations, and stay connected with coworkers and friends.

Developing healthy habits such as establishing a routine, practicing mindfulness, taking breaks, and seeking support can also help prevent burnout when working remotely.

By following these five steps and developing healthy habits, you can take control of your well-being and prevent remote work burnout. Remember to prioritize self-care and stay connected with others to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

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