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Home office burnout is real: here’s what you can do about it

As part of our new series in partnership with The Marketing Society, this month we hear from Robert Simons, head of international small to medium business and partner marketing, Paypal and member of The Marketing Society Asia.

Working from home or living at work? Thriving, or simply trying to survive? The ever-present ping-ping-ping of notifications. Or was that the microwave? Welcome to life from the home office. And for many of us, the global work-from-home experiment has rewritten the productivity playbook forever.

By now, and after some nine-plus months in, the thrill of having traded in the office commute for a few short steps to the home workspace has long worn off. Instead replaced with the seismic reality that, for many of us, life in the home office is here to stay. Faced with fewer (if any) face to face meetings with colleagues (masks on, please), the overnight evaporation of casual corridor conversations, and what were once interactive workshops now reduced to sharing screens, it’s clear a different approach to the virtual workplace is needed.

Yet whilst the workplace dynamic has shifted, the relentless pursuit of delivering impactful results has not. The increasingly blurring boundary between home and work life paving the way for the rise of the always-on home office. And the risk of burnout has never been greater.

According to a recent study from NordVPN which analysed usage trends across their platform, each working day has, on average, increased by two hours. And, as this recent study by Forbes claims, more than two-thirds of workers surveyed in the US have reported an increase in burnout symptoms. Clearly, changes are needed.

And so, to promote a better work/life balance, here are three simple ways to improve productivity from the home office:

#1: Focus on the output, not the hours

With the transition away from a typical office routine to a schedule that makes it hard to distinguish Tea breaks from Team meetings, it’s time to shift the mindset from hours worked to output achieved.

Rather than measuring success on the number of hours spent at the desk, set a list of impactful deliverables to complete. Prioritise the most impactful tasks first and worry less about trying to get through your entire to-do list; it will still be there next week.

Focusing the attention on tasks that matter will help to focus the energy where it counts, whilst freeing up the calendar from the tasks that don’t.

#2: Lights, Camera … action!

What used to be a revolving door of workplace interactions from team meetings to casual office chats has now been restricted to web calls and DMs. Considerably less person-to-person interaction where often, not everyone gets the chance to speak.

However, consider this. From all the calls you attended last week, who left a memorable impression? Chances are it was those who had their camera switched on. And whilst it may seem easy and often tempting to opt for audio-only, switching the camera on can have a profound impact on your presence in the virtual meeting room.

Most importantly, remember to look directly into your camera’s lens. Whilst it might take a bit of getting used to at first, looking into the lens equates to looking directly at your audience - just like being in the office.

#3: Take breaks, and take them often

When it comes to working effectively from home, taking regular breaks is an absolute necessity. Setting a 30-minute meeting with yourself at least once a day will give you time to clear your mind, reflect on your progress, and think about what you want to get out of the rest of the day.

Each one of us is different - what works for you, might not work for your colleague. Your 30-minute break might be a short-sweat session, a meditation program, a call to your best friend, or even a walk around the neighbourhood.

No doubt the time you just spent away from your desk will bring you more clarity, more focus, and leave you feeling significantly re-energised. And if you find there are too many meetings in your calendar preventing you from taking breaks, get ahead of the game and block the time in your diary.

Being at your best

By implementing and embracing new norms and ways of working, you can ensure you’re optimising for better physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing, which will, in turn, translate into improved productivity and being at your best more of the time.

Let me know what you think. I’m off for a walk!

Robert Simons is head of international small to medium business and partner marketing, Paypal and member of The Marketing Society Asia.