How to avoid burnout while working from home

Sarah Carty
Features & Style Editor

With the coronavirus pandemic continuing to spread throughout Australia, there’s no denying the significant increase of pressure on the workforce around the country, with people juggling new and unchartered landscapes like working from home and homeschooling kids on top of that.

If you’re feeling exhausted, that your ability to carry on is compromised or that you can’t cope with your workload anymore, you might be suffering from workplace burnout.  

Marcela Slepica, clinical director at AccessEAP, a leading employee assistance program, spoke with Yahoo Lifestyle about how to recognise when you might be reaching peak fatigue and what can be done about it.

Workplace burnout can cause exhaustion in employees. Photo: Getty Images

What is workplace burnout and how does it affect employees?

According to Marcela, people who have reached workplace burnout struggle with exhaustion, both physical and mental.

“Their thinking becomes overloaded with helplessness and powerlessness and they regularly struggle to put things into perspective,” she said.

She went on to say that they may frequently experience outburst of anger or irritation and it can lead to long-term mental health issues such as anxiety disorder, panic attacks and depression.

“An employee may also experience problematic interactions with clients or customers and can find themselves losing productivity,” Marcela continued.

Who is most at risk of developing workplace burnout?

While every workplace is different, Marcela believes people who are dealing with angry or distressed members of the public are one of the most at-risk groups to experience workplace fatigue.

She said the emotional toll can be huge, especially for those for are working remotely.

“Employees with multiple responsibilities may be at increased risk, as well as anyone with previous mental health concerns such as previous anxiety or depression,” she said.

People who feel like they're overworked and can't cope may be experiencing workplace fatigue. Photo: Getty Images

How does working from home contribute to workplace burnout?

With many people all around the country now working from home due to the outbreak of COVID-19, Marcela believes there’s definitely an increased risk of workplace exhaustion.

“For example, working parents who have young children at home, have to to juggle teaching, supervising and keeping children busy while also trying to work and meet deadlines. In addition to this, there are fears of not wanting to risk losing their job, which means they may be working late at night and doing overtime,” Marcela said.

“The pressures and demands can be significant. Those working alone who are isolated may struggle with loneliness, motivation, and feel disconnected from their colleagues. This may impact their feelings of anxiety, may affect sleep, and could also cause them to work longer hours as they fear losing their jobs.”

What can be done to reduce workplace burnout?

If you’re feeling like you might be reaching the point of burnout, Marcela recommends communicating this to your manager.

In turn, they should be able to assist you with support so you can focus on your own wellbeing and access solution on how to overcome it.

“Taking breaks, getting support if needed, and focusing on practical problem-solving solutions should be implemented rather than worrying,” Marcela said.

“Manage workload volumes and control or negotiate deadlines.”

As an employee Marcela recommends planning your time out, structuring your day and sticking to a routine.

Employees should speak with their manager and let them know they feel overworked. Photo: Getty Images

Being realistic is also imperative and if you find yourself in a situation where you are overloaded with work, ask for help.

“You cannot do it all and someone else may value the opportunity to help. It is not a failure to say no, it is realistic and key to looking after yourself in order to function,” she said.

If you’re a manager, Marcela says communication is key. She recommends setting goals and checking in regularly with your employees.

“Be careful not to micromanage, and ask questions, do not make assumptions,” she said.

“During this crisis where we are met with uncertainty and tight regulations, people feel like they are losing control.

“A lack of control over our circumstances, situation or workload leads to increased anxiety and fear but also feelings of helplessness and powerlessness.

“A way managers can support or assist with burnout is to give employees control over the things they can control, such as their structure, their routine and the ability to say no to extra responsibilities.”

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