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Research suggests we need to create a new kind of work-life balance to prevent burnout while working from home.
- Over the last decade, remote working has become more and more popular. Now, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, up to 62% of people are now working from home.
- Up to 40% of survey respondents say they feel more productive while working from home. However, there are also negative impacts, such as not taking as many breaks. "Employee burnout" is increasing at an alarming rate.
- Telecommuting and remote working will be the norm long after the pandemic, according to many outlets. There are things we can do to ensure we are maintaining a healthy work-life balance.
Remote working versus working in an office<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzQwMzg5NC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0NDQwNjk5NH0.9sY-gXgXN7T-3IyFrIGeFPVDQLZB79amjZxgachS83Y/img.jpg?width=980" id="feb7e" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="f671e5d5b826d13d7b7fe18e5296e3db" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="person sitting on the floor with a laptop, cat, and spreadsheets around them" />
Working at home presents different challenges than working in the office, and with remote working becoming the norm, we need to create a new kind of work-life balance to prevent burnout.
Photo by Creative Lab on Shutterstock<p>While there are many benefits to working from home (40.1 percent of survey respondents say they did feel more productive while working from home), there are also things we need to be conscious of with this new remote work normality.</p><p><strong>You may actually be working more hours at home than you do at work.</strong></p><p><a href="https://www.bluejeans.com/blog/future-of-work-2020-remote-work-survey-results#:~:text=Across%20our%20survey%20population,%20remote,additional%204.64%20hours%20per%20day.&&x-clickref=1011l9guUxfc&utm_source=skimlinks_phg&utm_medium=partnerize&utm_content=ecom" target="_blank">Across this survey,</a> remote workers were adding an additional 3.13 hours per day working from home compared to when they worked in the office. People who said they felt more productive at home than at the office were reportedly working an additional 4.64 hours per day. </p><p>While this may not seem like a big change at first, over time it can become detrimental to your mental health and your productivity. <a href="https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/how-employees-feeling-burnout-rises-top-stressor-list-justin-black/" target="_blank">According to new data</a>, employee survey comments surrounding "burnout" have doubled from 2.7 percent in March to 5.4 percent in April.</p><p><strong>Your eating and exercise habits may become worse while you're working from home.</strong></p><p>Along with potential burnout, picking up bad habits while working from home is another thing to be wary of. According to the <a href="https://www.bluejeans.com/blog/future-of-work-2020-remote-work-survey-results#:~:text=Across%20our%20survey%20population,%20remote,additional%204.64%20hours%20per%20day.&&x-clickref=1011l9guUxfc&utm_source=skimlinks_phg&utm_medium=partnerize&utm_content=ecom" target="_blank">Bluejeans survey</a>, 39 percent of people are reaching for salty snacks over healthy ones. Additionally, nearly 50 percent of respondents say they have not been able to exercise regularly since they switched from office to remote working. </p><p><strong>Distractions can cut your productivity.</strong></p><p>The hustle and bustle of home life can also take a toll on your productivity. Taking care of kids (27.6 percent), scrolling through social media (26.5 percent) and checking on the news (26.1 percent), along with getting distracted by streaming services and television shows (9.7 percent) are among the most commonly reported distractions that remote workers face, cutting into their productivity during working hours.</p>
Healthy changes to make when you're working from home<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzQwMzg5My9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1MzA4NTI3N30.cAWiaP10VoutwuflzE0KITL-rolqCalO5iFv0xjXZdA/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C52%2C0%2C52&height=700" id="5fc4d" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="2c6719e1290ba11745e9b1aa51b6abe7" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="woman leaning backwards with her head on her desk and her eyes closed" />
Taking breaks throughout the work-from-home day (even as little as 10 minutes) can allow you to become more productive during working hours.
Photo by stockfour on Shutterstock<p>This shift in remote working has proven many jobs are capable of being done at home, and <a href="https://www.brookings.edu/blog/up-front/2020/04/06/telecommuting-will-likely-continue-long-after-the-pandemic/" target="_blank">several outlets</a> are reporting that telecommuting will likely continue for quite some time, even after the pandemic.</p><p>While there are many benefits from remote working (such as lower fuel emissions, less waste, more productivity in some instances along with containing the spread of the COVID-19 virus), there are also some changes that need to be made if this is going to continue longer term.</p><p><strong>Separate your home and work responsibilities. </strong></p><p>Between scrolling through social media, checking the news, and taking care of your children, you may be feeling the pressure to crack down more than the usual to slow down, but new research shows just how important it is to take breaks while working from home.<br></p><p><a href="https://www.jobillico.com/blog/en/yes-you-still-need-to-take-breaks-while-working-from-home/#:~:text=Taking%20work%20breaks%20leaves%20us,likely%20to%20seek%20employment%20elsewhere." target="_blank">This article explains</a>: "Work and home are two separate places for a reason. Both require our attention and effort but in different ways. Completing work assignments and fulfilling personal responsibilities are both important things we do every day and having these two worlds physically separate helps us channel our energy the proper way at the proper time." </p><p>Removing that separation, although necessary and even beneficial in some instances, can cause us to become overwhelmed. </p><p><strong>Take regular breaks from work, even just for 10 minutes. </strong></p><p>When there is a lack of separation in our home and work lives, it can lead to a feeling of "always being on"—which is how burnout happens. Taking breaks throughout the day and "signing off" for period of home-time allows us to be productive at work and recharge during the restful periods. Even a break as short as <a href="https://www.jobillico.com/blog/en/10-things-to-do-with-your-10-minute-break/" target="_blank">10 minutes</a> can help increase your productivity and keep you from burning out.<br></p><p><strong>Perhaps the solution is working less days per week at home. </strong></p><p>According to <a href="https://www.npr.org/2019/11/04/776163853/microsoft-japan-says-4-day-workweek-boosted-workers-productivity-by-40?t=1592549642729" target="_blank">this 2019 study</a>, a 4-day workweek can improve worker's productivity by up to 40 percent. In <a href="https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/big-idea-for-the-new-decade-4-day-week-phenomenon-told-in-new-book-300934244.html" target="_blank">a 2018 survey in New Zealand</a>, a trust management company explained they saw a 20 percent gain in employee productivity and a 45 percent increase in employee work-life balance after testing out the 4-day work week. </p>
Don't worry about grammar rules at first. They'll only trip you up.
- Learning a language can be a tricky process, but it's important to remember that it is a process.
- Having learned 20 languages so far, Canadian polyglot and LingQ founder Steve Kaufmann's advice is to not focus on the grammar. Constantly thinking about the rules while attempting to speak only makes it harder.
- Investing time (often several months) into listening, reading, and practicing words before trying to speak a language will help you feel more comfortable with it. You will make mistakes, but you will learn from them and people will be patient with you.
Could better teaching practices make paying attention easier for everyone?
Sometimes not looking forward to something helps you get it done.
- A study from the University of British Columbia weighs the effects of positive and negative anticipation.
- Immediate gratification is a powerful motivator; we also want to get negative experiences over with sooner than later.
- The feeling of dread can be a powerful motivational tool to stop procrastination.
The Science of Productivity and Motivation | Dan Ariely<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="b1a2bc7280014931535569b65424ea40"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/xqMO_gx8Wac?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p><strong>Anticipation asymmetry</strong>. "Anticipation pushes against our natural tendency to want good things now and bad things later." We'd rather get negative experiences over with to avoid the dread of waiting. Yet this desire is not as powerful as wanting positive experiences immediately. </p><p><strong>Subjective magnitude</strong>. We weigh negatives twice as heavily as positives. This is similar to loss aversion: We prefer avoiding losses than acquiring equivalent gains. Loss aversion focuses narrowly on losses and gains, however, while subjective magnitude broadly considers positive and negative events. </p><p>At the outset of their studies, the authors believed anticipation asymmetry better represents how we deal with future events. This is because anticipation of positive events yields two responses: positive anticipation in <em>savoring</em> the moment to come; negative anticipation causes us to be <em>impatient</em>. With negative events, <em>dread</em> is the result of negative anticipation. There is no positive correlation (except the relief of putting it off). </p><p>Five days of Facebook ads were purchased to measure responses to two retirement fund campaigns. One featured a tropical beach; the other was more dreadful. As anticipated, the latter won out. </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"We found that an advertisement emphasizing the anticipation of future expenses was the most effective." </p><p>The next study gauged enthusiasm for purchasing eyeglasses. The control in both groups was immediately paying for the glasses. Volunteers were given the option to either receive a rebate in one month or have an extra month to pay off the bill. The choices:</p><ul><li>Brand A: pay $122 now. Brand B: pay $142 now, receive $30 in one month</li><li>Brand A: pay $122 now, pay $30 in one month. Brand B: pay $142 now</li></ul><p>The anticipation of having a future bill was more powerful motivation than receiving a future rebate.</p>
A woman walks on the beach as a storm approaches in Nassau, Bahamas, on September 12, 2019.
Photo by Andrew Caballero-Reynolds / AFP via Getty Images<p>Finally, 168 undergrads took part in a jellybean eating study. This was an involved study, with questionnaires given at various stages of decision-making. The gist: Would you rather eat a jellybean now or put it off? The choices: a delicious chocolate donut with sprinkles-flavored jellybean or a disgusting vomit-flavored jellybean.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"When participants considered a positively flavored jellybean, they somewhat enjoyed the feeling of anticipating it, but also did not like the feeling of waiting for it, and most often chose to consume it immediately. When participants considered a matched negatively flavored jellybean, they did not enjoy anticipating it nor the feeling of waiting for it, and most often chose to consume it immediately rather than delay it."</p><p>In both cases, volunteers ate the jellybean quickly, though for quite different reasons. </p><p>Negativity bias is a powerful motivator, as plenty of research on modern media has forced us to confront. The question is: can you use dread as a motivational tool to accomplish tasks more quickly? That idea was <a href="https://www.fastcompany.com/90513222/genius-productivity-hack-tell-yourself-its-a-horrible-hellacious-excruciating-task" target="_blank">put forward</a> at Fast Company. </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Don't want to do something? Tell yourself that it will be <em>horrible</em>. The <em>worst</em>. A <em>godforsaken burden</em>."</p><p>Strong language, perhaps, but the theory is intriguing. As the study shows, immediate gratification is more strongly woven into our DNA than dread. Yet dread can be a motivational tool as well. Cognitive reframing can stop procrastination in its tracks. </p><p>Some media outlets are infamous for presenting doom and gloom to keep consumers anxious. We don't have to go that far. But if the fears of mopping at 75 motivates you to start saving today, the likelihood you'll get to that beach appears more likely to happen. Dread can be a force for positive change. </p><p>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://derekberes.substack.com/" target="_blank">Substack</a>. His next book is</em> "<em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</em></p>
Taking preventive measures and investing in positive mental health can impact productivity, company culture, and staff turnover.
- The mental health crisis will have a cumulative global impact of almost $16.3 trillion between 2011 and 2030.
- Despite the previously held stigma, organizations of today are inclining towards advocation for better mental health among the workforce.
- Businesses can take several actionable steps to promote mental well-being in the workplace.