Last week, I saw a post on LinkedIn from a connection of mine who was talking about pandemic-related burnout.
For so long, many of us in the working world have been campaigning for a better work-life balance, asking our employers for an option to work flexi-time, or even work from home in a part-time or full-time capacity.
It wasn’t always an easy ask, and it certainly wasn’t always granted.
The Covid-19 pandemic forced us all to work from home, where possible, to avoid the spread of the virus. All of a sudden, for many, our wishes were granted and the dream of working from home became a reality.
But at what price?
We already knew that remote working can cause feelings of loneliness and isolation, and can also make us feel disconnected from our colleagues when we’re not physically working in the same environment as them.
We also know that work can become increasingly stressful from time to time, but burnout has quickly creeped up on many of us over the past few years and is a hot topic of conversation among many.
But the pandemic, all the fears of the unknown and the uncertainty of the future have exacerbated burnout and taken it to a whole new level.
Suddenly, the niceties of working from the comfort of your own home, not having to get dressed and spending more time with the family has become a curse more than a blessing, with pandemic-related burnout on the rise.
Not being in an office environment seems to be a major contributing factor. People have to adjust their routine - no longer being able to pop to the canteen for a bite to eat, or to the kitchen to grab a coffee, means that we’re spending more time at our desk.
In an office environment there are clearly defined lunch hours, which can easily be ignored while working from home. And while fewer distractions from office small talk can be a good thing, it also means that our brain is constantly switched on and in ‘work mode’, rather than adapting to the break that comes when someone asks a question or you’re called into a meeting.
Burnout and work related stress were the amongst the driving factors behind creating Wurkr. Having spent my entire working career in an office, I had first-hand experience of the toll it takes on you both mentally and physically, but equally, remote working brings its own set of challenges that we’re not always prepared for. This is especially apparent from a mental health perspective as some remote workers struggle to feel like a part of a team, feel like they are contributing and actually adding value to your role.
When you work in an office or dedicated work environment you create habits. You know what time you need to wake up, eat breakfast and get dressed in enough time to commute to work and start on time. You know roughly what time you’re going to stop for lunch and you know when to stop at the end of the day.
When working from home, all too often this goes out the window. You no longer have to commute so you may spend longer in bed, you may choose to eat breakfast at your desk and therefore may not eat lunch until 3pm. Or, you may start work earlier in the day, forget to take lunch and not finish until you’ve completed your tasks for the day.
When Annil Chandel and I created Wurkr, we wanted it to help with discipline and setting
boundaries, so even while working from home, or remotely, you still have those traditional ‘working hours’. You still have to take a shower and you still have to get dressed.
We felt we needed to replicate the terrestrial office as much as possible, in a virtual form. That way, not only are we bridging the gap for existing remote workers but we’re also giving employers an option to give their employees a choice as to where they work, because Wurkr will always keep you connected and feeling like you’re in the office.
I didn’t want this blog to be a product pitch and another tech is available to keep people engaged from home.
The important lesson is to keep mental health and wellbeing at the core of all workplaces and any tech that helps with this is good with me.
Finally, thank you Paul Flynn for your recent post and for inspiring this blog post.