Stressed woman facing her laptop.

SINGAPORE: Work-from-home (WFH) and hybrid work arrangements are perhaps the only gifts the COVID-19 pandemic gave the world, having upended the 8-to-5 in-office model that worked for generations.

It proved that employees could be just as productive—if not more— if they skipped the daily commute, the water cooler talk, after-hour drinks, and everything else that came with work

Employees, meanwhile, rejoiced that they could achieve a better work-life balance and do their jobs from anywhere in the world.

However, just because working from home is potentially less stressful than showing up for the daily grind does not mean that WFH burnout isn’t a thing.

The bad news

According to a report from a global business travel company earlier this year, over half of WFH employees (53 per cent) said they work more today than they did during the pandemic, with almost a third (31 per cent) saying they’re working “much more.”

Worryingly, 48 per cent of WFHers say they do not have emotional support, and a whopping 86 per cent say they’ve experienced high levels of exhaustion.

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Additionally, “moving from full-time office to full-time remote work increases loneliness by 67 percentage points,” the report from TravelPerk says.

The company identified the top three causes of WFH burnout as the lack of boundaries between work and personal life, as people cannot disconnect from work, a lack of workplace inspiration, and a lack of a supportive environment.

How to avoid WFH burnout

If you feel this shoe fits you, we have some tips and tricks to help you avoid burning out.

Get connected and stay connected. An oft-quoted Harvard study over 80 years has shown that good relationships are the most significant predictor of happiness, life satisfaction, and well-being.

Spending all your time in front of the computer is more than enough time alone—working from home means you need your relationships more than ever.

Make sure you take care of yourself. Sitting is the new smoking, as they say. By working from home, you’re likely to move less and possibly even reach for the fridge door or the bag of chips more.

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(We get it, we don’t judge you, we’ve been there.) It’s old-fashioned advice, but well worth following eat and sleep well, and stay active. It does wonders for one’s mood as well.

Keep a home office which you can walk away from, as this will help you set boundaries between work and life. During non-work hours, discipline yourself to stay away from that area and from opening work-related emails and messages.

Slack and Discord can wait until it’s time for you to clock in.

Remind yourself that working from home is still work, and nobody is ever 100 per cent happy with work. Nobody—even those who say they have their “dream job”.

You might think, ‘Well, I’m so lucky; I get to work from home, I’m saving money, I have more time for my family or hobbies…’ Yes, but every job has stress, even those that let us work barefoot in our pyjamas with hair we haven’t washed in a week.

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As for needing inspiration, why not jazz up your daily routine? Try working from a café or co-working space a few days a week or somewhere outdoors, surrounded by nature.

If you have friends who also work from home, why not do so together (but make sure you actually work and not just talk). Use your leave days to do something different; don’t just clean your kitchen—getting away will be good for your soul!  /TISG

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