Summary. As millions of employees around the world have had to suddenly and unprecedentedly transition to remote work amid the coronavirus pandemic, many may feel they need to work around the clock to demonstrate their dedication and productivity, and as a result, they can work to create healthy boundaries. Even more than before, afternoons are turning into nights and weekdays are turning into weekends, leaving a sense of little free time. So how can we “leave our work at the door” when we stop going out? Research shows that it will be important to: 1) maintain physical and social boundaries; 2) Limit how you use your time; and 3) focus on your most important task.
As millions of employees around the world have had to suddenly and unprecedentedly transition to remote work amid the coronavirus pandemic, many may feel they need to work around the clock to demonstrate their dedication and productivity, and as a result, they can work to create healthy boundaries. Even more than before, afternoons are turning into nights and weekdays are turning into weekends, leaving a sense of little free time. So how can we “leave our work at the door” when we stop going out? Research shows that it will be important to: 1) maintain physical and social boundaries; 2) Limit how you use your time; and 3) focus on your most important task.
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Millions around the world have suddenly switched to remote work amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Not surprisingly, some employers worry about keeping employees productive. What they should really be concerned about in this unprecedented situation is a long-term risk: employee burnout.
The risk is significant. The lines between work and play are blurring in new and unusual ways, and many employees working remotely for the first time are likely struggling to maintain healthy boundaries between their work and personal lives. To signal their loyalty, dedication, and productivity, they may feel like they have to work all the time. The afternoons will blend with the nights; Weekdays mix with weekends; and there will be little sense of looseness. That ispossiblethat some employees may be forced to work remotely for several months.
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(Video) 3 steps to stop remote work burnout | The Way We Work, a TED series
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A lot of research suggests that drawing boundaries between our work and personal lives is crucial, especially oursMental health.But it's difficult, even under the best of circumstances. This is in large part because the knowledge economy has radically changed what it means to have aideal worker.
Our research has shown that employees often inadvertently make it difficult for their managers, peers, and subordinates to maintain boundaries. One way to do this is to send business emails after business hours. In five studies of more than 2,000 working adults, we found that email senders who work outside of business hours underestimate how committed recipients feel to replying immediately, even when those emails aren't urgent.
Covid-19 could increase this pressure. Even for employees who naturally prefer to separate work and personal life, current circumstances may not permit this. Many schools are closed and childcare may no longer be an option, weighing on working parents or low-income workers. Even companies that are already encouraging employees to work from home will likely struggle to support employees with the many challenges of working from home in the presence of their families.
So, given the extraordinary situation many of us find ourselves in today, how can employees continue to separate their work and personal lives? How can we “leave our work at the door” when we stop going out? What can employers, supervisors and colleagues do to help each other?
Based on our research and the wider scientific literature, here are some recommendations:
Respect physical and social boundaries.
in oneclassic paper,Blake Ashforth of Arizona State University described the way people move from work to non-work roles through "cross-boundary activities". Wearing work clothes, the way to work: these are physical and social signs that something has changed. You've made the transition from "you at home" to "you work".
Try to stick to these limits when working remotely. In the short term, not having to catch an early train to work or being able to stay in your pajamas all day might be a welcome change, but both are cross-border activities that can do you good. , so don't give them up completely. Put on your work clothes every morning; Of course, casual Friday is fine, but prepare anyway. And consider replacing your morning commute with a stroll to a nearby park or even around your apartment before you get to work. Some workers have already come up with creative ideas andcarefreeWays to maintain your usual workflows.
Stick to time limits as much as possible
Meeting deadlines is crucialwelfaremicommitment at work. This is especially true when so many employees and/or their colleagues are faced with the challenge of integrating child or elder care responsibilities into normal working hours. Even for employees without children or other family commitments, it's a challenge thanks to mobile devices that keep our work with us at all times.
Sticking to a 9-to-5 schedule can be unrealistic. Employees need to find working time budgets that work best for them. You should also be aware and respectful that other people may have different working hours than you. For some it might be a child's sleep, for others it might be when their partner is cooking dinner. Employees with or without children can consciously create working time budgets by adding a"Away" replyduring certain hours of the day to focus on work. A less extreme response might be to simply let others know that you may be reacting more slowly than normal, thereby lowering reaction expectations for others and yourself.
Establishing clear deadlines often depends on being able to coordinate timeOthers. This requires leaders to help employees structure, coordinate, and control the pace of work. This could mean holding regular virtual check-in meetings with employees or giving them tools to createvirtual coffeeor workrooms. Through this disruption, maintaining a sense of normality is crucial.
Concentrate on your most important work
This is not the time for busy work. Workers need to focus their energies on high-priority issues.
When working from home, employees often feel compelled to appear productive, but it candrive youWorking on tasks that are more immediate than important, a tendency thatSeeksuggests that it is counterproductive in the long run, even if it benefits productivity in the short term. Employees, especially those facing an increasing workload that balances work and family responsibilities, need to be careful to prioritize important tasks.
Working all the time, even on the most important tasks, is not the solution. According to some peopleDear guests, the average knowledge worker is only productive an average of three hours a day, and those hours must be free from interruptions or multitasking. Even before COVID-19, employees found it difficult to focus on their core tasks for three straight hours. With the blurring of work and family boundaries, employee time has never been more fragmented.
Employees who feel "on" all the time are at a higher risk of burnout when working from home than if they commuted to the office as usual. In the long run, if every time we have a few minutes to get to work and email replies (during our nap, on the weekend, or during a movie break), it's not only counterproductive, it's not only counterproductive, it's also bad for your health bottom line. .our well-being. welfare. We all need to find new ways and help others do the same to create downtime and space.
These are just a few tips that can help workers maintain work-life boundaries to avoid long-term burnout. Employees will need the flexibility to experiment with taking advantage of their circumstances during these unpredictable times.
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