Working from home is often romanticized. The idea being that remote work leads to a more fulfilling life and an enhanced lifestyle because you have more time to do the things you want. But like anything that is idealized, the reality is in stark contrast to the fantasy.
Because for many employees, the work-from-home environment is a toxic one, adding as much as 15 hours to their workweek. Now that the work-from-home honeymoon is over, many employees are dealing with the emotional and mental repercussions of no longer being able to go to the office.
Why Are You More Likely To Experience Burnout When you Work From Home?
Burnout is typical in a traditional workspace and is often associated with being a workaholic or having an excessive workload.
But you don’t have to be a workaholic to experience burnout. Instead, once you lack a routine that you’ve built around going to the office, you’ll find you’ll easily overexert yourself, even unknowingly.
Essentially when you are working from home you don’t have traditional office hours. There is no clear demarcation or separation between your office and your home, and you are unable to escape office-induced stress by going home since your work resides with you.
All these factors exacerbate and accelerate burnout in employees by destroying the routine responsible for maintaining their cognitive abilities and effectiveness.
When your home is your workspace, you are more likely to blur the lines between work you should do in the office and the unwinding you do at home.
You’ll find that – even unwittingly – you are predisposed to toxic productivity. Checking emails first thing, creating schedules late into the night, skipping lunch, and sinking into general self-neglect.
These are the actions that lead to burnout in an office. However, when you take away the safe space that is your home – because it has become an office – you destroy the structures that allow you to combat burnout effectively.
The Implications of Remote Work Burnout
Remote-work burnout has far-reaching consequences that eclipse office burnout. The most devastating implication being that the effects of burnout aren’t as easy to reverse as developing a schedule that leads to burning out.
Reduces Your Ability To Identify You’re Burning Out
When you’re working remotely, burnout can go unnoticed for months, not because you have limited interaction, but because of the very nature of burnout.
One of the first signs of burnout is a decline in your cognitive ability. Therefore your decision-making, reasoning, rationale, and critical thinking are impaired. Essentially, preventing you from identifying that you are overworked and in need of rest and a reset.
However, when you are out of the office, burnout can linger, because it isn’t accompanied by the obvious warning signs, like extended periods spent in the office or taking business trips.
Since you may still be in your PJs by lunchtime you could think nothing of the number of hours you’re working or the limited time you spend doing anything besides work.
Amplifies Feelings of Loneliness
As is characteristic of working remotely, you spend most of your days in isolation. However, being isolated for extended periods leads to loneliness, and loneliness happens to be one of the most debilitating human experiences.
According to a meta-analysis co-authored by Julianne Holt-Lunstad, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Brigham Young University, loneliness is twice as harmful as obesity, having the same effect as smoking fifteen cigarettes a day.
When you’re working from home, especially during a time like this, you have limited access to a community and can therefore experience immense feelings of loneliness. Additionally, you don’t have support from your peers because you’re in isolation, rapidly increasing your chances of recognizing the stark self-isolation and reducing your chances of finding meaningful ways to cope with it.
Increases Your Chances of Developing Illness
This effect isn’t limited to your location, burnout is known to increase stress levels whether or not you experience it in an office or a home. Over time this increase in stress is responsible for high blood pressure, stroke, Alzheimer’s, and a host of other diseases and illnesses. You don’t realize it, but burnout is rapidly shortening your life and reducing the overall wellness that you experience by having an office and the routine that accompanies it.
Is Damaging To Your Productivity
A vital characteristic of productivity is efficacy. According to the Cambridge Dictionary, the definition of productivity is “the rate at which a person or company does useful work.”
The presumption is that if you do more work – or take on the traits of a workaholic and work for longer – you’re being more productive. However, this is a simplistic approach to productivity and neglects a nucleus hallmark of productivity – efficacy. Over time you’re wearing yourself down and will need more time to complete fewer tasks effectively, essentially fueling the endless cycle that is burnout.
As many offices still aren’t operating at full capacity, there isn’t a clear method to resolve work from home burnout. However, there are steps employees can take to reduce their chances of experiencing burnout or finding ways to overcome it.
These solutions can include scheduling time at the office when it is available, prioritizing social interaction, and developing your quarantine bubble so that it doesn’t only include colleagues.
Contact Rightsize Facility here.