For me, it feels like there isn’t a word for it, more a sound, “murgh” is the closest I can get. I’m sure I’m not alone in having days when this is the case. In a week when reading about the 95-hour weeks of Goldman Sachs employees and other people’s experiences of ‘cult-like’ jobs I took a moment to reflect and think how lucky I was to work for a business that’s so flexible and accommodating of its employees and for whom “Keeping staff wellbeing and engagement at the heart of the business” is our foremost objective for 2021.
But we also have a responsibility to ourselves. Sometimes we’re our own worst enemies when it comes to staying healthy both mentally and physically and this past twelve months has seen people constantly juggle this exact problem. According to the Mental Health Foundation, 74% of UK adults have felt so stressed at some point over the last year they felt overwhelmed or unable to cope.
While we may have found it easy to spot the tell-tale symptoms of stress and burnout pre-COVID, we could be inclined to ignore the signs while WFH. Because if there’s anything the constant grind/hustle culture has taught us, it’s that we’re ‘not as efficient’ when we’re working at home and that we ‘must push ourselves 10 times harder’ to show just how productive we’re being, right? And as we’ve gotten used to working from home, it’s become increasingly difficult to spot the signs.
In fact, that’s exactly why 69% of employees are experiencing burnout symptoms while working from home, according to Forbes. And despite the new positive outlooks of the UK vaccine rollout and thoughts of returning to the office, there’s the possibility that many of us will still be doing this for the foreseeable future as we journey through 2021.
So, what are the signs and what can we do about it? Below, with a little help from Forbes, I’ve listed 5 common warning signs and to look for in yourself and your friends, colleagues and teammates that are relatively easy to spot:
Burnout Red Flag #1: Avoiding Work
Is your inbox piling up? Are you letting phone calls ring through to voicemail? Are you consistently late to meetings? Have you caught yourself procrastinating? Often, when we’re feeling burned out at work, we suddenly want to do everything… except work.
Burnout Red Flag #2: Declining Performance
Have you been consistently arriving late to meetings? Is the quality of your work declining? If you make a mistake, do you try to blame others? In the early stages of burnout, our brains are constantly in a state of stress, which switches them into “survival mode,” meaning we’re not a focused as normal.
Burnout Red Flag #3: Apathy or Exhaustion
Do feel a lack of pride about your accomplishments? Have you been neglecting your usual self-care habits? Are you staying silent during meetings and conversations? Is it difficult for you to focus or be patient with others? In general, if you’re feeling bitter or you just don’t care about things that you usually do, you might be heading towards burnout.
Burnout Red Flag #4: Inability to Disconnect
Are you consistently working more than your contracted number of hours? Do you respond to work-related calls or messages during personal time? Is the first and last thing that you look at every day your phone or work device? Too much of a good thing can be bad, including work.
On Monday’s All-Hands call we talked about how we’re planning for the re-opening of our offices as the WFH law reverts back to guidance. Whilst I’m sure lots of us are excited to be back in an office with our friends and colleagues, whilst we are WFH, we have to look after ourselves and be vigilant of the signs above, as well as being willing to do something about them. And on that note, here are some of the things we can do about them:
Burnout Buster #1: Set Office Hours
Human brains like structure, but WFH makes for a feast-or-famine approach to it. More than likely WFH ends up blurring the lines between work life and personal life. The key is to find a balance. Implement your own office hours by silencing notifications or turning on your out-of-office when logging off. This way your brain knows that it’s time for you to relax.
Burnout Buster #2: Take Time Off
“Absence makes the heart grow fonder”. Time off work can make all the difference for burnout. Whether you spend that time doing activities or doing nothing at all, it’s important to make sure you ‘disconnect’. Turn off your phone (– gasp!) and try not to think about work at all. After a few days, you’ll feel recharged and ready for action.
Burnout Buster #3: Tell Someone
Hiding your concerns might only make them worse. If you’re feeling burned out – talk to someone about it. Talk to you manager, your team, HR or one of our Mental Health First-Aiders as early as possible. It’ll be easier to find a solution together!