Treatment and prevention
Telework and burnout: hand in hand
Telework is, for many, an increasingly evident reality at a time when no one can promise us that we will not face a new confinement again.
In pandemic times
In times of pandemic As the coronavirus spread around the world, companies were forced to adopt a working model without any kind of preparation. In fact, no one was prepared for such a radical change in day-to-day life, let alone for so long. Fear, uncertainty, and resistance to change have an effect on everyone's well-being and mental health.
Working from home makes it difficult for us to separate work life from personal life. We turn on the computer earlier and turn it off later, the working hours stretch into the night, and the days are all the same, to the point that we no longer distinguish between weekdays and weekends. Next thing you know, we are always on: we answer e-mails regardless of the time and our rest time is constantly invaded. All these actions lead to exhaustion.
Burnout can be defined as a physical and mental state of profound fatigue, a complex response of the body to prolonged job stress. Burnout syndrome is different from depression: the symptoms differ, but that doesn't mean they don't coexist.
Unreasonable deadlines and overwork have led to burnout among professionals in many different fields. According to the Occupational Health Psychology Association, in 2016, 17.3% of Portuguese workers were in burnout. If before 2020, work stress was already psychologically affecting part of the Portuguese population, in the face of a pandemic marked by uncertainty and social restrictions, the situation is even more serious. The point is that not everyone is alert to the problem.
Mental health has always been the poor relation in medicine. It is a specialty where there is little investment, resulting in a shortage of professionals in the public sector. In many companies, psychological and psychiatric pathologies are considered taboo and even seen as a sign of weakness, which leads to little talk about the subject.
- Constant fatigue;
- Muscular and headaches;
- Mood swings;
- Difficulty in concentrating;
- Low productivity.
- Burnout is a reality, but there are measures we can take to minimize the risks of reaching an extreme situation:
- Figure out the schedule that works best for us and leave the most demanding tasks that require more concentration for that time;
- Create routines and find a comfortable environment to work in - having a space to work in helps to separate personal and professional life;
- Do not skip meals just because you are working from home;
- It is important to maintain routines and replenish energy - create boundaries - it is not because you are telecommuting that you have to answer emails and calls after hours;
- Schedule time to exercise, meditate, or go for a walk;
- Don't forget to take daily breaks to breathe and to reformulate ideas and goals.
Measures to be taken by Companies
Regardless of the reasons - lack of time management or overwork - more and more people are suffering from burnout which influences company culture, productivity levels, and the cost of withdrawal.
A 2016 study coordinated by the WHO found that for every one dollar invested in mental health, $4 returns in productivity, satisfaction and happiness at work.
Steps for companies to take:
- Establish communication channels;
- Set schedules - ideally the company's business hours;
- Set goals and deadlines, to avoid excessive charges;
- Maintain an assertive and transparent communication;
- Allow flexible working hours.
The world has changed and the telecommuting regime, adopted at the beginning of the pandemic, may represent a long-term risk. Companies must be attentive to new work models that allow the balance between personal and professional life, promoting productivity and well-being.
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