Little did we know in March that when we packed our office essentials and shifted to a home work environment, we would still be there in early September. Most of us were probably thinking we would work-from-home (WFH) for six to eight weeks max. Obviously, that’s not been the case.
At the onset, I’ll admit I almost enjoyed the slower pace—not having multiple meetings in various locations daily, being on time for dinner with the family, and pushing back the morning alarm by a few minutes.
In June, I wrote about how managers should adjust as team members started showing fatigue. Now, with the novelty of WFH completely faded, fatigue has turned into exhaustion.
WFH Fatigue Sets In
A recent Wall Street Journal article argues that WFH is not sustainable as it causes workers to be less efficient and more fatigued. Other negative impacts include:
- Projects taking longer to complete
- Hiring and training becoming more complicated
- Inability to have spontaneous interactions
- Stunted development of junior professionals
- Difficulty in maintaining company culture
According to a recent CNBC article, over two-thirds of employees (69 percent) are experiencing WFH burnout symptoms, yet a significant majority (59 percent) are taking less time off work than normal. Balancing work, home, children and financial anxiety causes real stress for WFH employees, all of which is compounded for some also facing potential furlough or job loss.
Working Too Much
WFH impacts how much an employee works. “The real danger is that without a physical separation between work and the rest of life, people won’t ever stop working,” says a recent Fortune article.
Imposing boundaries is essential to maintaining productivity and sanity. In April, I quickly learned about setting boundaries in my personal move from office to home. Companies, too, can help with boundaries—similar to morning check-ins, they could also implement virtual evening check-outs.
Having employees who suffer from WFH fatigue is not good. According to a poll referenced in Fortune, “burned out employees are 2.6 times as likely to be actively seeking a different job, and 63% are more likely to take a sick day.”
WFH Fatigue: Coping Mechanisms
Some workers have returned to the office, but many continue to WFH and may for some time, especially as companies consider hybrid models for the future.
Since some degree of WFH is here to stay, let’s consider coping mechanisms for WFH fatigue:
- Accept your emotions: it’s okay to feel angry, depressed or irritable
- Implement a routine or structure into your day
- Take time off work, even for a staycation or socially-distanced outdoor activity
- Seek support from your friends, a support group, or counselor
WFH: Blessing or Burden?
In his CNN Podcast, Dr. Sanjay Gupta says, “The opportunity to work from home has been a blessing and a burden. You get to see your kids more, your spouse and the people you live with, but work-life balance might also be harder to find.”
You may feel the same way. While this scenario is not permanent, the way we work may be forever altered. Therefore, if you suffer from WFH fatigue, try your best to engage in positive coping mechanisms.