Thanks to the pandemic, many companies are making working from home (WFH) an accepted practice. In fact, organizations like Google are finding ways to accommodate remote work indefinitely. Unfortunately, though, folks are struggling to work from home without burning out.
A whopping 62% of employees work from home, and you might think they’re all living their best lives. Instead of long commutes, employees are rolling out of bed and walking to their desks. They’re getting more time with family and can tackle laundry in the middle of the day. Of course, their favorite snacks are in the refrigerator, and let’s not forget about their furry co-workers who give snuggles during Zoom calls. Sounds like a dream, doesn’t it?
The reality, though, is that working from home has its challenges, too. One survey indicates that over two-thirds of WFH employees are experiencing burnout symptoms. They feel unmotivated, disengaged, tired, and stressed.
To work from home without burning out, you can practice compassion for yourself and your co-workers.
What does that look like? Try these simple tips:
1 – Kick off meetings with brief check-ins
Remember that you’re working with a bunch of human beings, not just worker bees. In order to remember the humanity of each person, you need to take the time to nurture connection.
One simple way to connect is to incorporate brief check-ins at the start of your meetings. If it’s a large group, invite your teammates to share in the chat how they’re feeling on a scale of 1-10. For smaller groups, invite each person to share their number out loud and give them the opportunity to elaborate with one sentence.
Make sure everyone knows they can pass if they’d rather not share. That helps create psychological safety on the team.
2 – Try a pomodoro timer
Now that your meetings, calendar, emails, and spreadsheets reside in the same rectangle (your computer), you don’t have many reasons to get up from your desk. Force yourself to take breaks to keep energy levels up and to keep from burning out.
If you use the pomodoro timer technique, you’ll set a timer for 25 minutes of working. When the timer goes off, you can set another timer for a 5 or 10 minute break. After that, you’re back to 25 minutes of working. (Find a timer at Tomato-Timer.com.)
3 – Set an intention every Monday to schedule one-on-one time with a co-worker
One of my Compassion It interns worked for a local tech start-up when he graduated from college. He shared that one of the best parts of the job was how the company used the Donut app to connect people from various departments so they could get to know each other.
You don’t need an app to help you set up virtual or real-life conversations over coffee. Simply reach out to someone new each week and explain that you’re trying to get to know your co-workers.
4 – Set boundaries
It’s challenging to separate work life from personal life when the two live under the same roof. You’ll need to bring discipline to the table/desk and form clear boundaries between the two. That might look like:
- Having a clear start time and cut-off time for work
- Putting your computer, calendar, etc. out of sight during the hours you’re not working
5 – Create a workspace you enjoy
In January of this year, I realized I had been staring at the same four walls every day all day for nine months, and I needed a change. I bought paint and did some shopping on OfferUp to change my living and work space. (I don’t have an at-home office, so my living room is my work space.) Now I’m delighted by my four walls and enjoy my surroundings.
One of my friends lights a candle every day to start work in order to make the environment more pleasing. Another sits outside on her deck whenever she can, and yet another created a little cafe in her living room in order to make working from home more fun.
Try to be creative and think of ways that your workspace can inspire and delight you. These simple changes may not seem like much, but they can help you work from home without burning out
6 – Remember that you’re not alone
Another way to work from home without burning out is keep common humanity in mind. If you spend any time on social media, you might think that everyone else is living it up as they work remotely. They’re working in a fancy camper van at a national park, or they’ve got their feet in the sand at a tropical beach. Or maybe they’re actually at home, and they just love working next to their romantic partners and spending time with their kids.
I’m here to tell you… working from home is hard. You aren’t the only one tired of your home and wishing for a coffee break with co-workers. Find comfort in knowing that you aren’t alone in this struggle. (If you were, I wouldn’t be writing a blog post about it.)
7 – Forget Zoom and embrace old-fashioned phone calls
Before COVID, I spend a lot of time meeting people via phone calls. I’m not sure why we decided that every meeting needed to be face-to-face, but I’m ready to buck that trend. When I’m on the phone, I can stand up and move around. I also don’t have to worry about my hair, what I’m wearing, or if I’ve got food in my teeth. Plus, my brain isn’t trying to interpret body language…I can simply listen.
Suggest a phone call for your next one-on-one, and see what happens.
Try to incorporate some of these compassionate ideas, and let me know how it goes. I imagine you’ll begin to feel more connected and less overwhelmed. Hopefully you’ll, once again, appreciate the positives that come from working remotely.
Compassion It can support your organization with the challenges of disconnection that come from working from home. Reach out to us to learn more about how we can help!