This is a marathon, not a sprint. When COVID shut everything down in March, employers and workers alike looked ahead in two-week segments, recognizing the fluidity of the situation. And here we are in month five with no end in sight. When you tell yourself that a drastic change will only last two weeks, it’s easy to stomach. But eventually, you end up wondering how much longer you can look forward two weeks.
The reality that COVID isn’t leaving anytime soon is hitting hard. COVID fatigue has settled in. And along with it, work from home fatigue. According to CNBC, 69% of employees are experiencing work-from-home burnout symptoms. Yet, 59% of them are taking less time off and, 42% are not setting aside any time to decompress.
Parents, once accustomed to sending their children to daycare or school before commuting to work, now find themselves juggling work, child care, and distance learning in one place. And while we all hoped that things would go back to normal by the fall, it’s crystal clear that that is not going to happen.
We’re experiencing a paradigm shift. And we must adapt. But first, we need to combat work-from-home burnout and COVID fatigue. Forbes has a few suggestions to help you get started.
Create a routine and stick with it.
Structure your work-from-home day in much the same way as you did when you worked at the office. Get up at the same time, have your meals at the same time and exercise at the same time. If you had a commute, consider going for a walk during that time to create a feeling of transition from home to the office or from the office back home. Establish a definite start and stop time for your workday.
Define your role.
Using the same tools you used to define your role in the office, take time to assess your role in this new environment. You may have the same responsibilities to your team, but you might also be juggling those tasks with your role as a parent, spouse or caregiver. How do these dynamics affect how you work remotely?
Setting clear expectations for yourself and your role in this new setting will help alleviate the stress that comes with uncertainty.
Chances are you didn’t work the whole time you were at the office. You took breaks to chat with co-workers or simply to let your mind rest. Taking breaks while working from home is just as important. Watch a fun video or listen to something funny. Read something unrelated to your job.
If your role requires you to have a lot of meetings on Zoom, schedule them with a 10-15 minute break between them. The short break will give you time to prepare for the next meeting. And if you can, choose phone meetings over Zoom to prevent screen fatigue.
Use break time for a quick check-in and connection with your family members. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s a good break – so you go back to work feeling refreshed.
And make your weekends “weekends” again. When you work from home, it’s easy for days to lose their meaning. When you give yourself a couple of days away from work and technology each week, you’ll be more productive in the long run.
According to the University of California at Davis, it’s important to say informed about difficult situations and also be mindful of overwhelm. UC Davis recommends focusing on the numbers because that helps us focus on what we can control. At the same time, you want to limit triggers – limit the amount of news you listen to – and make sure it comes from trusted sources.
Stay away from social media arguments. Often, contrary information comes from people experiencing COVID fatigue themselves. Remind loved ones that this will be over soon if we all follow the guidelines. And if that doesn’t work, model good behavior and be kind.
Always remember, you can’t control anyone but yourself.
These are challenging times for everyone – perhaps the most challenging we’ve seen in our lifetimes. But we’re in this together. We can get through this together. And our team at ON Point is here to help you finish the marathon.