Nearly halfway through 2021 and we find ourselves in a unique working situation where employees have either returned to the office, remote work or juggle both working styles.

Needless to say, whether at the office or home, burnout has steadily increased over the past year with workers feeling the pressure more intensely than before.

Why is this the case and what can be done about improving worker wellbeing going forward? Let’s look at how leaders can make a difference and what individuals can do to prevent or overcome job burnout.

What is job burnout?

Job burnout is defined as chronic and unmanaged workplace stress that affects mental health and work performance.

Job burnout results from various factors, including a lack of control, job expectations that aren’t clear or a work-life imbalance but to name a few.

Although job burnout isn’t a medical diagnosis, its symptoms like depression, having trouble sleeping, lethargy and more are destabilising.

Job burnout results from various factors, including a lack of control, job expectations that aren’t clear or a work-life imbalance but to name a few.

What can leaders do to reduce work burnout?

In the past, remote working was often viewed as a reward for a job well done, now it’s the norm.

Although there are many working-from-home benefits, it does present glaring drawbacks that can lead to burnout.

Here’s what leaders can implement to assist overwhelmed employees.

Offer flexible working not remote working

Before the pandemic transformed how we worked, burnout in the office stemmed from spending eight or nine hours in an office, lengthy commutes feeding into family time, and bringing work home.

Remote working presents a new set of challenges affecting mental health, the primary one being that people are working longer hours than before because they feel guilty if they don’t. Some might continue to hold onto this attitude for overworking even though workers are steadily returning to the office space.

There is a newfound pressure to always be available, which is sometimes reinforced by a company's work culture, not accounting for an individual's personal responsibilities.

What employers can do is tweak their expectations by permitting flexible working schedules that don't necessarily follow a nine-to-five routine. For working parents, this might mean that specific times during the day are allocated to childcare.

Check in on your staff

Not everyone on your team might feel comfortable sharing personal info about themselves, especially when it comes to mental health issues.

During times where isolation and disconnection are commonly felt, regularly checking in with staff members working remotely could help them to feel validated and acknowledged.

Furthermore, if you’re finding that a staffer isn’t meeting expectations or making targets, regularly held conversations can clear up ambiguities and ensure everyone’s on the same page.

Not everyone on your team might feel comfortable sharing personal info about themselves, especially when it comes to mental health issues.

Tips to avoid work-from-home burnout

2020 created an overworked, exhausted and overwhelmed workforce. Between having to demonstrate their commitment from afar and having a less structured work life, there are plenty of home office stressors that keep stressed-out workers up at night.

The below resolutions will hopefully provide relief to overstretched and overburdened staff members.

Everyone needs routine

Being forced to work from home resulted in turning everyone’ schedules upside down, especially with commutes being completely eliminated.

Not having to travel to work equates to more time in the morning, and as appealing as extra shut-eye sounds, it’s a better idea for people to stick to old routines.

For example, if listening to a podcast en route to work is how you started your day, keep up with it. Rolling out of bed last minute doesn’t leave you much time to prepare for the day ahead.

Rolling out of bed last minute doesn’t leave you much time to prepare for the day ahead.

Connect (but don’t overdo it)

Humans are social beings who need interaction. Remote working has become synonymous with Zoom calls and video conferences to help professionals stay motivated and feel like they're still part of a team.

That said, what's added to people's stresses is the constant barrage of communication happening. From emails to IMS and impromptu messages, with lots of time discussing issues and answering messages, critical work time is being lost.

Let people know when you're unavailable, and excuse yourself from digital meet-ups if your attendance isn't essential and you have deadlines coming up.

Let people know when you're unavailable, and excuse yourself from digital meet-ups if your attendance isn't essential and you have deadlines coming up.

Give yourself a break

The dilemma for many people is that they feel they’re simply not doing enough, which can lead them to work too hard and reach a tipping point.

Recharge your depleted batteries by taking breaks during workdays, doing only what you feel like. This might include exercise, quick stretches, a power nap, running errands, having lunch away from your laptop or work phone, or reading a couple of pages of a book.

Recharge your depleted batteries by taking breaks during workdays, doing only what you feel like.

Advice for hybrid workers

Hybrid business models are being adopted all over the country. This mode of working entails a split between working from the office and the office.

With work hybridisation in its teething stages, employees are bound to carry the weight of transitioning from one vastly different work style to the next.

Not just how to ensure a seamless, stress-free transition? Here’s how you can cope with working from “home the one day, the office the next” mentality.

Get properly set up

Ahead of your return to the office, make sure your home office and professional workstation are both set up with everything you need to work.

There’s nothing worse than being ill-prepared and forgetting certain pieces of equipment in the wrong location.

Prepare in advance to avoid falling behind on your work.

Decide which tasks you’ll do where

Hybrid business models are being adopted all over the country. This mode of working entails a split between working from the office and the office.

One of the biggest frustrations that people have faced working from home is that breakdowns in communication often occur.

Now that people are returning to the office in some form, it’s now possible to work on collaborative tasks in person. When planning your weekly schedule, make sure you’ve committed time for face-to-face meetings and brainstorming sessions.

On the other hand, your home office offers a quiet environment to focus on concentration tasks, away from distracting work colleagues and office hubbub.

When planning your weekly schedule, make sure you’ve committed time for face-to-face meetings and brainstorming sessions.

Working around other people’s schedules

With different employees working flexibly, some inside the office and others at home, the work culture might appear disorganised and chaotic.

This scenario might leave people demoralised, especially among workers who attend meetings digitally while their team members are at the office. This could leave feelings of exclusivity, being left out or not having your ideas heard.

Therefore, since these mixed modes aren’t going anywhere, time needs to be invested in learning how to communicate more effectively.

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