What Is Virtual Burnout And How To Avoid It
The world was turned upside down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and in an attempt to return upright, the workforce was forever changed by the shift to full dependence on technology as a solution to remote work. According to Flexjobs, companies and other businesses have seen the benefits that remote work can have on their workers, including location independence, decrease in commuter stress, and money savings, but what are the negatives of this new way of operating?
What Is Virtual Burnout?
Webster's Dictionary defines burnout as exhaustion of physical or emotional strength or motivation, usually as a result of prolonged stress or frustration. Virtual Burnout has the same results in a continual virtual environment and its effect on a person's life. Apollo Technical stated that in a survey done by monster.com, they found that 69% of remote workers experienced symptoms of burnout.
Many aspects of remote work can bring about virtual burnout and the warning signs are important to recognize and prevent.
Zoom fatigue is real!
Virtual meetings can be a major source of stress during your workday due to their effects on normal communication. Virtual meetings inhibit our ability to pick up on our coworker's social cues like eye contact and body language which would be the main focus for our brains in a regular conversation, so without those cues, our brains become easily distracted by the environment around us causing our attention to stray away from the computer screen.
Also, since we can see ourselves during virtual meetings, we become hyper-aware of our physical presence, making us focus on our appearance and physical tendencies rather than watching the speaker or presentation on the screen.
Subconsciously, these are all things that we worry about because of the inorganic communication that virtual meetings cause. We, as humans, are meant to communicate face-to-face, so adapting our communication skills to this new form of staying connected takes time.
There are many other signs of virtual meeting burnout, but the best preventions are only to schedule necessary meetings and schedule breaks in your day to step away from the computer to focus on your mental health.
Next time you are in a virtual meeting, take time to assess your personal habits or tendencies and find ways to center yourself on the topic being discussed by taking notes and staying involved in the conversation by answering questions and communicating with other coworkers.
From personal experience, my phone has had the biggest impact on my mental health while working in a remote work environment. The constant connection we have to our phones prevents us from ever truly separating ourselves from our work.
Suppose you have work emails, workplace messaging apps, or other work-related accounts attached to your phone. In that case, you will always be able to receive notifications rather than seeing them the next time you log into your computer.
Work-related messages outside of normal working hours are not uncommon in a remote work environment due to the access we have to our phones and the ease of sending out whatever we might think of at a moment's notice. This form of immediate communication can disrupt sleep schedules, vacation time, weekend relaxation time, and nightly wind-down routines.
Phones are the easiest ways for employees to become burnt out due to feeling that they can never fully separate themselves from work and feeling continually “on call.”
To prevent your time from being disrupted by your work life, set hours of availability on all communication outlets you have for work.
Emails can send immediate responses for you, telling the sender when you will be available to read and answer their correspondences and messaging apps can be scheduled to be set on “do not disturb” once your work hours have ended. These two solutions are the easiest ways to establish a boundary between you and your work so that your time stays protected from the interference of work-related stress outside of normal work hours.
The reason offices are the preferred environment for workers is because they are controlled by the business owner or company you are working for. They place you at desks or cubicles designed for workforce optimization so that you will be as productive as possible with as minimal disruptions as possible. This is not the case when we work from home.
Home environments have all sorts of distractions, from kids, pets, chores, and spouses to other technologies like TVs and phones that can drag our attention attention away from our work assignments. Also, in this environment, there is no supervisor to oversee your activities to keep you on track. You are fully in charge of your accomplishments during your workday, which can cause problems for those that are easily distracted or have less discipline than others.
When establishing your work-at-home workspace, make sure to find a quiet room or location that makes you feel comfortable and productive. You don’t want to find a spot that is too comfortable since you will be more inclined to relax or get tired easily, and a place that is too loud or uncomfortable will be too distracting; it’s like Goldie Locks, you need a place that is “just right.”
Once you find the location that suits your needs for productivity, personalize it to fit your workspace needs. Having a space that is your own will make you relax and feel ready to get your work done. For me, I need to have an organized desk that fits my planner, laptop, pens, and chargers so that I have everything I need in one spot to get me through my workday. Just like in an office, you need your own form of workplace optimization to be the most productive you can while not being in a structured office space.
Virtual Burnout is easy to experience if you aren’t aware of the causes and effects that it can have on you and your mental health; these are just a few causes of burnout while working from home, but for more tips to prevent burnout visit halfhalftravel.com.
For more tips and advice for carrying yourself in the professional world or personal branding strategies, check out the rest of Power Move Marketing's blogs.
Author: Piper Blake