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When do we stop working if our home and work blend into one?
During the pandemic, remote employees have been working up to 2 extra hours each day! Part of the reason for this was due to the sudden shift to adopting new technologies and work processes. Part of it was due to the shut down of so many of the activities that used to fill our “free” time. However, part of the problem is that when we work from home we don’t have clear visibility into how hard and how long our managers and co-workers are working. If I don’t respond to the phone call or Slack message right away will I be viewed as not working hard enough?
Just because we are working longer hours, it doesn’t mean we are working smarter. And while we might not be ready to embrace Iceland’s 4-day work week experiment, it’s important that we put boundaries in place to prevent the “work creep”, that phenomenon when work expands to fill time. With remote and hybrid work models now a permanent feature for many employees, here are three strategies to help prevent burnout.
Make it a Flex Day; Not a Work Day
The hybrid model of working is gaining traction. Employees want flexibility. However, it is not just where we work, but when. Rather than following a strict 9-5 structure, workers who are able to perform their responsibilities digitally should be encouraged by their organization to consider flexible hours. When we take standing breaks, a short walk around the block or take the time to cater to the needs of our family, we can come back to our work better able to do our job.
An 8 hour Day Doesn't Mean 8 Straight-Hours
Breaks increase our focus, productivity and creativity. Here's how to plan yours effectively. Schedule them - approx every 90 minutes, ideally for after you have completed a task. Instead of scrolling on your phone and sitting in the same spot where you have been working, take a break from your technology. This is your time to get active. It’s the opportunity to do the squats/planks you promised yourself you would do everyday, enjoy a 10 minute stretch or even walk up and down the stairs.
A Timely Response Does Not Need to Be An Immediate Response
What happens if your colleague’s need to make dinner for the family results in you receiving emails late at night? This is where a combination of simple tech strategies and larger company policies come into play. Turn off notifications; write an email but schedule it to be sent during business hours; set up auto-replies for digital inquiries that arrive after business hours stating that you will respond the next business day. Not only will you relieve yourself from feeling that you always need to be on, you give yourself the space to be thoughtful and intentional in your responses. When we are so focussed on responding quickly, we often do not take the time to respond well. Sometimes emotion takes over; we don’t always give ourselves the opportunity to do a little research or critically think through a problem or request.
What can businesses do to help support their employees and combat burnout by making time for their physical and mental health? One solution is a digital wellness program that empowers employees to embrace their own wellbeing and connects them to your company’s culture and with each other. To learn more about how Sprout At Work educates, engages and motivates employees around the world to be the best version of themselves, contact us today.