I was reflecting on sitting at home at the weekend, which I spent in isolation, other than doing a bit of shopping. I did the usual things: a bit of work from home both Saturday and Sunday and went outside when it wasn’t raining – all in all nothing too exciting.

I made a comment to my wife that with all those working from home (WFH), we need to be cautious that each day doesn’t flow to the next and we lose track of the days. We need to be conscious of having our own time together and enjoy the breaks from work like we do on the weekends.

Sometime after this, an article popped up on Twitter from the Harvard Business Review (I tell you Google is listening), it was titled 3 tips to Avoid WFH Burnout (3 April 2020).

I will endeavour to summarise this article below.

It’s not necessarily the productivity that we should be concerned about but the long term risk of employee burnout. The lines between work and non-work are beginning to blur as many employees work remotely for the first time. We will struggle to preserve healthy boundaries between our personal and professional lives. As the team try to show devotion, loyalty and productivity, they may feel as if they should be working more often. Weekdays will blend with weekends and days with evenings.

There will be challenges even for some business that already have part of their team working from home as their normal routine will be disrupted with family being home.      

Below are some recommendations to assist in combating this:

Maintain physical and social boundaries – By getting ready to go to work and travelling there allows for you to transition from ‘home you’ to ‘work you’.  So, don’t abandon these altogether, put some semblance of your work clothes on every morning and maybe go for a walk before beginning work.

Maintain temporal boundaries as much as possible – find work-time budgets that function best for you.  Let your family know that certain times of the day is work time.  Put an ‘out of office’ message on.  Hold regular virtual ‘check in’ meetings to keep a sense of normality.

Focus on the most important work – We should be devoting our energy to top-priority issues. Working from home sometimes we will feel compelled to project the appearance of productivity.  This can lead to tasks that are easy to do rather than those that are more important. As we face increasing workloads; as we juggle family and work issues; it is preferable to prioritise important work.

These are just a few recommendations that can help workers maintain boundaries between their work and personal lives and assist in avoiding being burnt out. Employees will need the flexibility to work out which works best for them in these uncertain times.