While it hasn’t made the headlines, you’ve probably witnessed firsthand the COVID -19 pandemic’s unspoken side effect – burnout. A Workplace Intelligence and Oracle global study found that fifty percent of workers are clocking in more than five extra hours per week. The 9 to 5 lines are completely blurred. While everyone is thrilled to tout, “productivity is high even with work-from-home,” no one saw the mental health crisis that would follow.
Technology was supposed to make our lives easier, right? Then how did we get so busy? In an effort to please customers, clients, upper management, and the like, it’s very easy to find yourself starting your day with an 8AM Zoom meeting and wrapping things up on stats and reports around 11PM — simply because now… we can. I admit, in the past the ability to work from home, especially as a deadline approached, was super convenient. It was the best of both worlds. Work could be tended to and the family did not feel forgotten. But that was an occurrence that came about once in a while, not week after week. Many of us need to find the courage to implement boundaries, for our own mental health and that of everyone we work with. If you’re a business owner or department head, those reporting to you are taking cues from you. Be upfront about your healthy “pandemic schedule” and let them know it’s okay to follow suit.
Bring Back the Weekend
I’ve come to count the number of emails, texts, and phone calls I receive on the weekends now. Not the ones from my mom (wondering how I’m managing this pandemic burnout), I’m referencing the requests, reminders, and questions from those in my work circle. While I normally put in plenty of extra hours, I have to wonder if we’re simply expected to be accessible 24/7. Again, there are certainly times when large projects require more hours or a new opportunity creates a squeeze on your schedule, but Saturday and Sunday have seemed to merge themselves into the workweek. I find myself questioning my Friday go-to closing of, “have a great weekend!” I’m overjoyed when I see someone post their weekend adventures or lazy Sunday coffees on the porch – that’s what weekends are for – recharging.
As technology crept into our lives we clearly missed the boat. Its ability to complete tasks for us should have resulted in employees reducing the time needed to do their jobs, right? Somehow we turned that equation into giving employees more to do. A culture was created that anyone working a mere 40 hours per week wasn’t working hard enough. Seattle start-up Volt is testing a 4-day workweek. They, as well as other companies who are experimenting with the idea, are finding employees are less stressed and happier. And they’re just as productive.
Shaping the Future
As 2020 comes to a close, we all need to review how the pandemic has affected our work-life balance. Even with the possibility of a vaccine on the horizon, moving into the new year still has many companies questioning the future – of their workspace, income, and ability to hold on to employees. Let’s steer clear of a potential pandemic-induced burnout and mental health crisis by setting the stage for healthy employee expectations and make 2021 an amazing year.
If you’re looking for solutions to create a safe office environment, or maybe provide employees with a proper work-from-home furniture set, simply contact us. We’ve helped numerous companies navigate office relocations, furniture modifications, and revisions to their office space – we’re here to help!