When was the last time you really stepped away from work and took some time just for yourself? Shut out all the noise - the email, the Slacks, the Zoom calls, the LinkedIn notifications, the constant worry about a current project - and just took a moment for yourself to regroup and refocus?
Workplace burnout doesn't just happen in the office, we are in fact at even greater risk of it happening whilst working from home. As Deloitte's Chief Wellbeing Officer, Jen Fisher, points out below, the lines between our professional and personal lives blur, and before you know it, you are working all the time. So, how can we compartmentalise our work?
Based on Harvard Business Reviews research and the wider academic literature, here are some recommendations:
Maintain physical and social boundaries
Through sticking to "my normal routines" I have found this to be particularly beneficial. By getting up, "commuting" to work, be that a walk, run or ride and then putting "work clothes" on, helps maintain the transition between "home you" and "work you".
Plus, it turns out that if you exercise in the morning, your productivity can skyrocket by 41 percent and your risk of burnout goes right down according to Jo Coulson et al.
Maintain temporal boundaries as much as possible
Maintaining temporal boundaries is critical for wellbeing and work engagement. Working from home in our current climate presents a number of previous unforeseen issues, such as child care, or the constant connection to our work.
The reality is that you must find what works for you, and in turn, not only be respectful but trust in your colleagues getting their work done too - even if this follows a different pattern to you. Some strategies you can use to feel more in control of your time are:
- First, block out leisure time. This is what we push to the side most, so stick to it!
- Next build in focus time in advance every day or week to ensure you have time to work undisturbed on a certain task or project.
- Don't be afraid to turn off notifications on email and messaging apps, to ensure you aren't disrupted during your focus time.
Focus on your most important work
Research suggests we should be devoting our energy to top-priority issues. It is easy to become side tracked by work that has no significance but can make you seem like you are busy, but this is counterproductive in the long run. As it is, we can only concentrate productively for 4 hours a day - so focus on a task and get it done (or at least a significant proportion of it).
Finally, don't be afraid to take some annual leave - we might not be able to get away but switch off and make some time for yourself to enjoy your hobbies or some quality family time. It is great for our mental (and physical) wellbeing!
As many offices across the country and around the world have transitioned to remote working, we’ve basically created a global pilot for work-life integration! Except that for many people, it’s not integrated: Work and life are sitting on top of each other. Now more than ever, boundaries are vital. Be open and honest with your co-workers about what you need and when you need it. As a team, talk about potential challenges and decide on normal working hours. Set expectations around response time to emails. And decide what conversations truly warrant a video call. I’m a big believer of quality over quantity — not every call needs to be a video conference. If you’re a manager, have these conversations as a team to understand what works for everyone before you put rules in place.