At this moment in history, it’s hard to argue against the notion that the entire work world, across all industries and sectors, is at a real inflection point due to a variety of disruptive forces—including a global pandemic that’s impacted every facet of life and a tidal wave of technological innovation that’s forcing a rapid evolution in how business is conducted on a global scale.
It’s no exaggeration to say that everyone in the professional universe—from business leaders at the vanguard of their industries to workers at all levels who staff their teams—have felt the brunt of these planet-shifting forces. History will likely divide the winners and losers by those who choose to remain vigilant, agile, and flexible in the face of uncertainty and those who remain static and stagnant.
Chief among the ways in which businesses and employees have had to pivot during the pandemic is the rapid (in many cases, literally overnight) transition to remote work. All of a sudden, companies from lean startups to gigantic multinational conglomerates had to move their entire businesses from offices to online, and employees had to quickly get comfortable with working from home.
For some, this adjustment was easy. In fact, many companies were starting to embrace the notion of telecommuting before the pandemic struck. For others, the switch has been more of a challenge. Simply put, not all work from home situations are created equal. Some folks have many more hurdles and distractions to contend with in order to remain productive—things like family members, young kids, ambient noise, and wi-fi speed are big factors in how successful the change has been received.
Also, not every employee has mentally adjusted to working from home. The truth is, some of us are more social creatures than others and crave the camaraderie and in-person interaction with our colleagues—and really feel its absence, despite the prevalence of available video conferencing tools. Many of us prefer having a clearer division between our professional and personal lives, and working from home has blurred that distinction to say the least.
All of this has led some folks to start wondering if they’re experiencing the early warning signs of WFH burnout. Are you among them? Take a close look at the following 3 work-from-home warning signs—if you can relate to any or all of these, then you might be experiencing some form of burnout.
Change in productivity
Often, a noticeable drop in productivity while working from home can signal a problem. When transitioning to working remotely, did you start off with the very best of intentions and dedication to handling your daily responsibilities but are now starting to see some cracks? Are coworkers taking notice and commenting about your drop in response time and work? Are projects that you’re involved in starting to suffer?
A noticeable diminishment of productivity over a sustained amount of time (most of us have the odd day or so of reduced efficiency, which is normal as long as you rebound) may signal that you’re in danger of burning out. On top of this, while working from home many of us are tasked with having greater oversight and monitoring power over our work tasks—so it may be up to you to diagnose and remedy the situation before it becomes a bigger problem.
Loss of focus
We’ve all come to realize that a key challenge in working from home is avoiding external distractions so you can properly focus on your daily tasks. But is that getting harder and harder as time goes by? Or worse, are you eagerly looking for more and more distractions or any other reasons to get away from work? Have your work hours and schedule started to shift drastically? Are you getting your workday started later and later, or are signing off for the day earlier and earlier? If you’re noticing any of these behavior patterns, it may mean that you’re on the road to burnout and need to address the issue head-on.
Craving colleague interaction
Many of us thrive in a collaborative setting that allows us to have face-to-face interaction with our coworkers—but some of us downright require it in order to be happy and successful at work. Is working from home starting to feel like a lonely solo enterprise? Do you find yourself looking for more and new reasons to get your colleagues on the phone, on a video conference call, or even in a text chat? If you find yourself desperate for increased levels of coworker interaction while working—to the point where it’s affecting your mood and ability to work—this may be a warning sign that work from home burnout is imminent.
Here’s the bottom line: for many of us, working from home has been an adjustment that comes with a few challenges. Are you worried that you’re starting to experience work from home burnout? If the behaviors covered here sound all-too-familiar, then it may be an issue worth addressing.