The COVID-19 pandemic brought with it so many changes, many of which occurred almost overnight. One of the largest that has impacted almost all of us has been remote working. For some, this was temporary, but for many of us, this is the new normal, and with offices unlikely to return to 100% capacity in the future, embracing a remote working style is crucial for us all.
At a glance, it’s been great! No longer having to do long commutes, saving money on public transport, spending more time with family and, of course, comfier clothes replacing standard office attire. All this is a welcome change; however, working from home has brought on its own challenges – the biggest being the separation of space. That feeling of “switching off” once you arrive home has disappeared, which is no surprise since the space that was once a refuge has now become your place of work. Most days, you may wake up, shower, eat, work, and relax with family or friends all in the same place.
This proximity to the workspace has also caused a shift in perspective. Work used to begin, for many, when we arrived in the office. Now, thanks to the absence of a commute, many of us start logging in earlier to get ahead of the day. Furthermore, when we used to watch the clock so as to not get home too late, we can work later almost by accident as we have nowhere to be. This leads to longer work hours and an inevitable burnout – we are only human after all.
Whilst this may sound a little dramatic, don’t worry! Working from home doesn’t mean you can’t have a sustainable work-life balance. Believe it or not… it’s easier than you think.
Here are our top five tips to avoid burnout for those of us still working from home.
Have a routine
One of the most effective things you can do is create a routine and stick to it as best you can. Leverage your organisational skills you use on a daily basis to provide structure to your exec/teams for your own schedule and aim to start at the same time every day and clock out at the same time when you can. Set a lunch break and stick to it, and don’t work whilst you eat – even if it’s just for 30 minutes. This will help you achieve that all-important feeling of “disconnecting” and separation of space.
Take annual leave
As tempting as it may be to hang onto your precious annual leave until it feels like the perfect moment to travel in our post-pandemic world, the simple fact is we don’t know when that will be. It’s also important to remember that you are entitled to a set number of days away from the office (wherever that may be), which is clearly outlined in your employment contract. Make sure you don’t succumb to the guilt associated with taking your annual leave, which you could feel more now that you aren’t physically in the office Monday-Friday. Take the odd day here or there and give yourself a break and recharge! Life is short, so take care of yourself.
Fresh air does wonders for stress, especially when combined with some exercise. A 20-minute walk a day will help you unwind, and can be a perfect ending to a gruelling workday. Leave the house once you’ve logged off for the day, and you’ll return home refreshed and out of work mode. Alternatively, if you’re struggling to find the motivation to get out once you’re done and dusted, analyse which meetings in your diary you can turn from desk to walking meetings. This could be a weekly team catch-up, a planning meeting or anything that you don’t need to be on camera for so that you can simply plug your headphones in and have a stroll whilst adding your regular contribution.
Create a workspace
If you can, create a dedicated workspace, even if it is simply a corner of your couch or dining table. Try to be disciplined and only work in this area. This will help create the idea of a workspace and personal space. Click here to read our previous article on how to create the perfect working-from-home office space.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Although you’re working remotely, this doesn’t mean you have to be alone! Reach out to colleagues and managers when you need support. Your mental health is so important, so don’t neglect it! If you need extra support and want to surround yourself with other assistants around the world who can become your own personal community, click here to join our membership and meet other assistants just like you.
Burnout has been a huge concern for so many remote workers; however, it can be easily avoided. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that time is precious and we owe it to ourselves to take care of each other, and ourselves, as best we can. Follow these tips and you’ll achieve that all-important work-life balance.
Share with a friend if you think they’ll benefit as well!
Article contributed by The Assistant Room. Written by Sarah Armenariz.