During this current pandemic, corporates are strongly encouraged to allow their employees to work from home for their safety and to further reduce the widespread of this virus. There are even major companies that have announced that their employees can work remotely long term and some even indefinitely.
Getting straight to work in pajamas right after breakfast, attending virtual meetings via conference calls and zoom meetings and hanging out with colleagues virtually have become the “new normal”. Though it seems that time is saved from commuting and we are effectively in a safer environment as we are embracing social distancing, there are downsides from remote working which are mainly emotional and mental related.
Playback to the past when I was first informed that we are to work remotely until further notice, I was still energized and excited about it. I thought I have it all planned out well to cater for my remote working arrangement. I have checked all the items listed in my checklist required to have a work-life balance during this remote working arrangement. A specially created work corner that is conducive for work productivity and effectiveness – checked! Necessary exercise tools and equipment for my regular workout sessions – checked! Arrange regular catch-up with friends via virtual hangouts – checked! At that point in time, I did not realize I have missed out one particularly important item in my checklist.
Hence, fast forward from then to now, nearly six months since my remote working arrangement, I have suffered from job burnout recently. My job burnout was quite bad to the extent that I felt like a walking skeleton who have no purpose in life except for work. Life was just a blur and days just pass by meaninglessly.
Remote working has blurred the lines between work and personal life because our home has become our workplace. I realized that I have not taken enough care to ensure that we create boundaries to maintain a certain work life balance. The one key important realization is as much as I have created the physical boundaries, I do not create the mental boundaries. I do not leave work after office hours as my work laptop is just an arm’s length away. Previously, I was available to leave work and was able to switch off completely after I step out of office. This may be due to the proverb out of side out of mind. Hence, I was suffering from job burnout and experiencing mental and emotional related issues arising from the “new normal” working arrangement as mentioned earlier.
This self-realization has made me change my work habits in the following ways. My objective is to “tell” my mind through these actions, to switch out of work mode when it is time to and to continue work tomorrow when the new workday begins. Firstly, every morning I will make a deliberate effort to use the commuting time saved to do longer meditation or listen to a podcast, instead of jumping straight into work. Secondly, I will change out of my pajamas before work and change into my home wear after work. Lastly, when it is time to knock off, I will stash my work laptop away from my sight.
I am thankful that I have this self-realization and have taken the necessary actions before it’s too late. These three changes in my work habits have helped me slowly recover from my job burnout and I am now on the road to finding back myself and meaning in life.