Remote Work is the lifeline for many companies in this pandemic today. However, some companies do not have the capacity to handle this sudden shift. As a result, they went into adopting a remote work model without considering the challenges it can bring.
Ask anyone working from home today what some of the challenges they face and you’ll hear a few common ones. Stable connections, hardware issues and multitasking are just some of them. These are very much challenges that need tackling to improve overall productivity. At the same time, it’s important to also examine some other, often overlooked challenges that working from home can bring. Even some of the most seasoned companies may overlook these from time to time.
Professional Burnout at Home
When people talk about the current “new normal,” many will say it’s about staying in and doing remote work. This is also true for parents with children now taking virtual classes. They are both working and watching their children under the same roof. From the outset, it seems like doing anything “at home” is a luxury that most people dream about. Attending classes or working your 9 to 5 from a sofa sounds so appealing. However, what people realize quickly is that these same activities bring both the same and new challenges from their previous “normal.”
As a result, people need to remember that even at home, burnout is a real thing. When the boundaries between your professional and personal lives overlap under one roof, it can prove to be bothersome. As of this writing, we are entering the sixth month of this global pandemic and no doubt many are feeling the effects physically, mentally and psychologically. Business owners should understand that professional burnout, especially in this uncertain environment, must be handled with great care.
Online Fatigue is Real
Many are missing physical socialization in this new normal. Seeing friends and family on the weekends or having water cooler talks with officemates seems so long ago already. Many psychologists today recommend the scheduling of online meetups through video conferencing to maintain some of these social bonds. With so many options offered, talking with others online is a lifesaver for many in this pandemic.
However, as the old saying goes: “Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing.” While interacting online is the current norm, how much it occurs should also be taken into consideration. “Zoom fatigue” came about due to the reliance of not just staying online to socialize, but how one behaves. No matter how interactive and real time these video conferences are, there are just some things it cannot replicate with a face-to-face conversation.
Solutions to the Challenges
The common factor in these issues is the blurred lines between professional and personal time. With both work and leisure now happening under the same roof for most, differentiating the two can be difficult. This is also punctuated for those with children who are in the midst of online classes and need parental assistance. Not having boundaries can further complicate burnout, making it important for people to set them. Physical boundaries such as a designated work space free from distractions should also be made your own. If you are living with others, treat your area as a personal space that others should be considerate about.
Because it’s a work area, you can go to it during designated work hours. Create a regular schedule that helps keep your work space separated from your after hours leisure activities. In doing so, you avoid getting swallowed up by work and you find a new balance with what your tasks. At the same time, employers must be sensitive and mindful to these schedules as well. Unless in an emergency, avoid needing to contact others in a professional capacity after their designated work hours.
You can avoid “Zoom fatigue” in the same way. While video calls and meetings are unavoidable for remote workers, limiting their frequency and length can help. Matters that can be addressed via email or through chat do not need video calls to be resolved for instance.
Having the Right Boundaries
The new normal is showing just how effective a work from home model can be. At the same time, it’s not without challenges unique to its approach that some may not be fully aware of. Employers have to help create ways to ensure productivity remains at a desired level, while also addressing issues that may arise. With the line of work-life balance blurred more in today’s environment, management should strive to maintain it for the company. It should be seen as one of the best practices of remote working as it prioritizes both professional productivity and personal health.