IT ServicesStaff

Microsoft Teams

How to avoid virtual burnout while working from home.

Working from home has become a regular part for most people at Loughborough University, following the COVID-19 crisis we have had to change and adapt quicker than would be normally expected of us. Most people didn’t have time to prepare for this change to their work and home life. Suddenly, they had to organise and motivate themselves. They had to find somewhere quiet to work, which involved negotiating with their families or others who shared their living space. Headspace gained from commuting and even walking between meetings was lost, making the workload feel as though it is ever growing with no turn off or slow down switch. All of this can contribute to becoming fatigued or burntout.

Causes

  • The ease with which we can book meetings often means no break between them
  • We no longer need to factor in travel time between meeting rooms and subsequently have lost important time to pause, think and recharge
  • The additional visual input and nonverbal cues of having multiple people on the screen moving and looking back at you
  • Seeing yourself during video chats constantly in real-time is fatiguing
  • Video chats dramatically reduce our usual mobility
  • Excessive amounts of close-up eye contact is highly intense.

Symptoms

  • Feeling apathetic and generally exhausted
  • Having reduced work performance.
  • Forgetfulness and difficulty concentrating
  • Difficulty maintaining relationships and being present with loved ones
  • Frustration and irritability with co-workers
  • Physical symptoms, like muscle tension, pain, fatigue, and insomnia
  • Difficulty in switching off and maintaining work/home boundaries

Resolutions:

  • Consider reducing meetings to 50 minutes and taking 10 minutes between as a break. You can automate this through Outlook here.
  • Assess if your meeting really needs to be over a virtual platform: could an email or telephone call achieve the same results?
  • Plan breaks in between your meetings and try where possible to limit the number of meetings in one day.  You may want to use a. reminder tool such as Pomodoro to nudge you into taking a break.
  • Consider changing your viewing options so you can only see the speaker.
  • Try alternating activities throughout the day, spending some time answering emails or completing other tasks between meetings.
  • Further information is available on the Staff wellbeing webpages - Happy and Healthy at Home