Remote working can provide a lot of flexibility that takes a large amount of strain off of employees. Some prefer remote work because of the autonomy it can give them over their schedule, they don’t feel the stress of driving into the office, and it allows them to attend to matters in the home much more easily than if they were kilometres away.
There are certain personality types that really thrive in this setting, and are indeed more productive.
But, oftentimes, there comes an assumption that if you are in your preferred environment then you will be at optimal performance all of the time. That’s just not so – it’s just as easy to burn out while working remotely as it is working into the office.
Burnout isn’t just based on location, but more along factors that employees feel weigh them down, without any change in sight.
Many employees ask to work from home as a way to beat burnout, but there are more than likely other issues that stand to be addressed. Merely changing where you sit won’t do it alone. There really needs to be an honest evaluation about why the change in environment was so important and what can be done to make the most of the opportunity.
If working remotely was proposed because of the stress of frequent interruptions during the day that interfered with your ability to focus, however, all that’s happened is substituting colleagues who need attention for children that need attention, then you haven’t really taken care of their need to have blocks of time to do your work. It’s crucial for remote workers to identify their needs and to shape their environment to fit those needs.
There are signs of burnout that are easy to ignore, or deny. If you are lacking excitement to do your work, that may be one sign.
It’s important, however, to recognize that disliking particular tasks that need to be done weekly or monthly (but may not be a large percentage of their job) is a little different than dreading logging in to work in the first place.
You should look forward to work, since we spend most of our days engaged with our jobs, but if you have a nagging feeling that lasts for a few months consistently, then it’s time to have a chat with your manager on your goals and responsibilities.
Another sign of burnout is if you’ve become apathetic about your team and requested meetings. If you’ve stopped responding in a timely manner, and generally feel irritated or annoyed by legitimate inquiries, it’s time to do an evaluation of why you’re feeling that way.
Remember, you’re still part of a team and owe it to both your colleagues and manager to keep up with tasks that they may be depending on. Taking your issues out on them isn’t very fair, and can also land you in trouble.
Make sure you’re showing up on time for meetings as much as possible, and taking care of those emails and chats in a respectable time. If the pressure of feeling like you have to respond immediately is one of the factors that is weighing you down, have a chat, and set up times throughout the day when your team or other colleagues will know when to expect your feedback.
Protecting your time is important, for sure, but find a happy balance. More than likely, your colleagues will understand.
Burnout is not something that should be taken lightly, as it can lead to changes such as depression or anxiety.
- If you’ve found yourself run down in general, and you’ve taken a lot of days off lately without feeling any better afterwards, you owe it to yourself to discuss this with your medical provider or counselor.
- If you feel trapped in your remote work, like you can never move up the chain of command, or that this will be your life for the next 20 to 30 years, this can really affect your well being. This is a major red flag, and should be addressed immediately.
- If isolation is causing these feelings, make a change to incorporate more face to face meetings (albeit online) and check in with phone calls.
Sometimes, having your meetings over the phone can be just as effective as email, but gives you that contact with others you may be seeking.
Depression or anxiety can ripple out into your social and family life, and can really weigh you down. Identify what it is that is making you feel this way and prepare to discuss the changes you would like to see to try and manage that.
In most cases, small changes (discussed with your manager, of course) can lead to really big effects on your wellbeing.
Let’s face it, most people usually hit points of feeling burned out throughout their careers, but it’s not necessarily always a sign to up and run to another job.
Take steps to address it first.
And, remember, this is not permanent, and if you cannot make successful changes with your remote work environment, then you absolutely do have the option to find another company that may better fit what you need to feel productive and excited.
This is a solvable problem — empower yourself to address burnout so you can be your best self!