While we all aspire to do work that is meaningful and fulfilling (I believe that is completely possible, and I am living proof), it can still be hard. As my dad used to say, that’s why it’s called work. Regardless of your work location, If you don’t get fatigued from your work sometimes, you might not be doing it very well. Now that you are working from home every day, you might be surprised how hard it has become. Don’t worry, you aren’t the only person experiencing remote work fatigue.
Let’s talk about why this is happening and I’ll share some tips for overcoming that pesky remote work fatigue.
Do You Have Reliable Routines?
Routines provide stability and reduce our stress levels. A routine is something we can do as a habit, without thinking much about it. When we don’t have a routine, the same tasks must be completed using more of our conscious mind and focus. While your routines as a remote worker might be quite different than before, you still need them. You will reduce your stress and fatigue level if you start creating routines – especially for the start and end of your day.
Are You Missing People?
If you are living alone, this is almost assured. Even if you are living with a house full of others, you might be missing the interaction with others in your life – work related or otherwise. If that is true, you need to get as connected as possible. For years I have suggested greater use of a webcam to remote workers. While I still believe the connection of seeing someone’s face is important, one more zoom meeting might not be what you want (more on that in a minute).
If more video isn’t what you need, connect on the phone, send text messages to people you miss or haven’t connected with in a long time. Set up a group chat. Do something that keeps you reaching out to and encouraging others. As you do that you will reap as many benefits as you plant.
Are You Feeling the Pressures?
Ask anyone who has been working remotely for years and they will tell you that working remotely now is different than it was before viruses and lockdowns and all the uncertainty. The context provided by the larger situation, and perhaps the reason why you are working from home at all makes a big difference.
While you can’t wish the situation away, you can put the unemployment, health, economic and other worries in a new perspective. Focus on what you can control. Identify the things you are doing that amplify your anxieties and do as few of them as you can. While you can’t ignore these new pressures, when you identify and manage them you can reduce remote work fatigue that they may be multiplying.
Can You Take In All The Information?
The amount of information available that we need to process is significant. Now you have all the information you always needed, plus all the new information related to the virus and related changes. I know many leaders who have a full meeting each day just on covid-19 issues. This is on top of an already full day of work and activity.
When you went to workplace some of that information was passed verbally. Now there is more information and even more of it is passed via email. You are writing and reading even more than ever. Recognize that is may be a source of your remote work fatigue too. While you may not be able to reduce the barrage of information, you can manage how you process it. Manage this by doing email reading and writing in time blocks, rather than as a never-ending stream of information.
Do You Wish You Had Fewer Meetings?
Most professionals have always wanted to have fewer meetings. But now, while sheltering in place and working from home, the number of meetings has grown further (and there isn’t even free coffee). If you are a leader, talk to your team about the impact of all the meetings. If these meetings are causing additional fatigue, work together to determine how you can accomplish the work and still reduce the remote work fatigue they cause.
As a team member you have a role too. Be focused during the meeting and do your part to make them productive and shorter. Even if you can’t reduce the number of meetings, you can make the ones you attend as helpful and effective as possible.
Are You Moving?
The research about working from home has long shown that most people are less physically active when working from home. The walk to our work now is far shorter than the walk to our mode of transportation and into the workplace. People become engrossed in their work and take fewer breaks.
We all need exercise and when working from home you may need it more than ever. Stand up and stretch. Take a walk at lunch. When you are moving and stretching you are reducing stress and fatigue and likely becoming more productive at the same time.
Now you know you aren’t alone. Don’t feel guilty and anxious because you are feeling fatigued some days. Acknowledge it is real, but don’t wallow or worry. Rather, apply some of the ideas here to help you reduce the remote work fatigue, and perhaps even avoid it sometimes.
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