Three years after the beginning days of a global pandemic, many of us still find ourselves adjusting to completely virtual or hybrid work environments. Remote work offers opportunities for some that were not previously available, such as flexibility in working location and caretaking schedules, as well as a general increase in accessibility. However, working virtually is just as easily associated with increased feelings of isolation and decreased productivity. There can also be difficulty in setting boundaries for an ideal work-life balance. For these reasons, taking care of our mental health and continuing to adjust to a virtual lifestyle is of utmost importance in prioritizing overall well-being.
Some tips for avoiding remote work burnout:
- Set a working schedule – and stick to it.
When working remotely, you don’t have the chance to walk out the office doors and leave your desk behind once 5 o’clock hits. Keeping to a work schedule is important in helping to set and maintain boundaries between your work and personal lives. Try writing out your work hours and share your calendar with relevant colleagues so they can also be aware of when you’re scheduled to be “online.” Outside of work hours, silence your work notifications for less pressure to respond to any non-urgent early morning or late-night messages or requests.
2. Take breaks
If you have experience working in person, take inventory of how many 5–10-minute breaks you took throughout your typical workday. Walking around between meetings, refreshing your coffee, and pausing to chat with a coworker were likely ways you built in breaks away from your desk. Remote work life shouldn’t be any different. Research shows that taking short physical and mental breaks throughout the day decreases the chance of burnout and increases overall productivity.
- Get outside
If your schedule allows, get outside for at least 15-20 minutes during your work day. Fresh air will help you in maintaining your focus and staying productive. Also, depending on your location and the season, cooler air is more likely to assist in reducing work stress-induced arousal so you can feel less overwhelmed and continue with the remainder of your responsibilities for the day.
- Communicate with your team
Don’t let too much time go by of feeling like you’re floundering before reaching out to a supervisor or HR representative to talk about what you’re struggling with. While you don’t need to go into too much detail or specifics about your mental health, seek support from your employer and discuss expectations about availability and time for breaks throughout the day.
These tips are not an exhaustive list of the ways that may work for you to maintain well-being while working remotely, however they can be helpful ways to start when you’re feeling as though work life is spilling over into your personal life. Setting boundaries and expectations for yourself, and then communicating those are the best way to maintain your well-being and be able to perform to your best ability.