These days, flexible working arrangements mean that many more people work from home. In fact, according to the ONS Labour Force Survey, which is the largest study of employment circumstances in the UK, more than 1.54 million people work from home for their main job. That’s up from 884,000 ten years ago. However, in recent weeks, the number of homeworkers has soared, as the coronavirus has forced millions of office workers into the safety of their homes.
With that in mind, we thought we’d provide some top tips for those who are new to working from home to help you avoid burnout.
1. Make a routine and stick to it
Newbie homeworkers might imagine days spent on the sofa in their pyjamas, but for most, the reality of working from home is very different. Even though you’ll have a lot of newfound freedom, most experienced homeworkers shun that freedom in favour of a strict routine, which starts with getting dressed in the morning.
Most successful homeworkers also keep very strict hours. This prevents work from creeping into other areas of their lives and gives them time to exercise, socialise and relax, all of which are extremely important when you spend a large part of the day at home.
2. Take plenty of short breaks throughout the day
Studies have shown that the formula for peak productivity is to work for 52 minutes followed by a 17-minute break. You don’t have to follow that rule precisely, but when working from home, taking regular breaks is crucial to your productivity.
In the workplace, you have impromptu breaks all the time, whether it’s a chat around the water cooler, strolls to other departments or trips to see clients. Those organic opportunities to take five minutes tend to occur less frequently when working from home, which is why you should make sure you get away from the computer to recharge. Breaking the day up into smaller, more manageable chunks will help to keep you fresh and improve your productivity.
3. Create boundaries
Once you have created your routine, make sure your boss, clients, customers and colleagues know when you are available. Just because you’re working from home, it doesn’t mean that you have to answer calls and emails at all hours, unless it’s a condition of your employment. Labour laws in France and Sweden prevent employees from answering emails outside of working hours. These rules have improved the work-life balance of employees and made them more productive.
4. Get out more
According to the 2018 State of Remote Work Report, loneliness is the biggest struggle for people who work remotely. Human contact can provide a morale boost during difficult periods and deliver significant mental health benefits. When you’ve been working from home all day, it’s important to make extra effort to spend time with others. In the coronavirus crisis, going out for a walk or heading out for the evening may not be possible, but even having a conversation on the phone can reduce the risk of burnout from a lack of human interaction.
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