You found our guide on how to beat work from home fatigue in virtual offices.
Work from home fatigue is a condition where virtual employees feel unmotivated, disconnected, and dissatisfied with the working environment. This state of being may be a sign of burnout, or may just be a temporary setback. Whatever the severity or duration of these feelings, there are ways to overcome the issue and regain productivity and satisfaction. This symptom is also called “WFH fatigue.”
This guide includes:
- work from home burnout tips
- ways to beat work from home fatigue syndrome
- tips for feeling unmotivated when working from home
- ways to avoid remote work fatigue
- causes of work from home fatigue
Here come the tips!
How to to beat work from home fatigue
Here is a list of proven ways to beat work from home fatigue in remote offices.
1. Explore the Root Cause of the Funk
While colleagues in traditional offices tend to have similar working environments, virtual coworkers can have vastly different home office spaces. Each work from home setup is unique, and the cause of a virtual work slump may be the result of an element of the environment.
To solve the work from home blues, the first step is to diagnose the cause of the upset. Possible culprits include a lack of privacy or personal space due to sharing the space with family members or housemates, a blurring of boundaries between work and home life, or feelings of isolation due to living and working alone.
Once you find the main cause of the blahs, you can take appropriate countermeasures. For instance, rotating use of a home office with a locking door or jaunts to a coworking space, logging out of work emails and apps at a set time, or socializing with colleagues or friends.
2. Set Up Your Space for Maximum Happiness
One of the best ways to avoid remote work fatigue is to mindfully set up the home office for maximum support. An uncomfortable workspace can cause work from home burnout.
Sturdy and spacious desks, ergonomic chairs, and computer monitors make a noticeable difference when working virtually. Setting up a professional workspace can draw a divider between the home space and office space, reinforce boundaries, and improve productivity. Many companies now cover the costs of these setups, so be sure to take advantage of existing home office stipends or check with your employer for options.
Beyond the essentials, you can also add extras that elevate your home office space. For instance, pedal bikes to promote physical activity or standing desks to help with alertness. Having nutritious snacks and a large water bottle within reach can encourage healthy habits and prevent detours, as well as make you feel physically better.
Consider also bringing objects into your workspace that bring joy and comfort, such as a beloved art print, a plant, or a favorite cup.
Remember that you can redecorate or rearrange the space if ever in a rut.
Here are more ideas for your home office.
3. Host or Attend TeamBuilding Events Regularly
Team building can foster camaraderie among virtual coworkers and chase away the feelings of isolation that often accompany remote work. However, in the midst of work from home funk, many folks struggle to find the motivation to plan a hangout, or to rearrange their schedules to take part in an outing.
A better approach is to plan ongoing team building activities before morale drops. Having recurring dates for activities on the calendar creates a sense of normalcy around the occasion. The recurring nature of the events means that team members do not feel pressured to attend any one outing, yet reminders and RSVP’s create a sense of accountability that encourages employees to attend. With repeated outings, teammates feel more like part of a club than guests at a one-off event.
For example, TeamBuilding recently launched an employee book club. Each month, team members vote on a book and have one month to read the title before meeting via video call to discuss it. Throughout the reading period, members post reactions and comments in a Slack channel. Members may skip a busy month, yet having regular meetings encourages more participation.
4. Socialize with Remote Coworkers During the Work Day
Loneliness is one of the main causes of work from home fatigue. Many telecommuters focus on tasks and have few unnecessary conversations with coworkers. The result is an increase in productivity but also a sense of alienation from peers.
In remote workplaces, there is no bumping into a colleague in the breakroom, sitting together in the canteen for lunch, or waving hello in the hallroom. Remote teammates have fewer naturally occurring opportunities to make connections or small talk with coworkers. Work banter needs to be more intentional.
Finding chances for casual conversations with colleagues can help to decrease stress and build relationships with coworkers.
Here are some suggestions:
- Share photos of pets, family, vacations, or food
- Ask icebreaker questions during meeting or on emails
- Challenge team members to Slack games
- Take a virtual coffee break with a colleague
- Send a message just to say hi
For more tips, check out this guide to making virtual water coolers.
5. Meet Up With Colleagues in Real Life
While virtual team building can be fun, many folks miss being physically present with colleagues. Working with folks you have never met in person can be a strange feeling. If possible, it may be worthwhile to occasionally meet up with remote coworkers in real life. Team members located in the same area or passing through a coworker’s city can meet up and spend time together.
Here are some suggestions:
- Drinks or coffee
- Lunch or dinner
- Coworking space meetups
- Attending an event together
- Hikes or city tours
- Team outings like escape rooms or laser tag
- Dog park meetups
When gathering as a group is not an option, one alternative is to simultaneously do the same activity in your own respective cities, and report back. For instance, the group may all try Ethiopian food and share photos and reviews, or get massages.
If you live and work alone and find yourself craving non-virtual human connection and meeting up with coworkers is not an option, then consider reaching out to friends and relatives, or attending a club or event to get a much-needed dose of face-to-face interaction. Non-work socialization can improve your mood and make the workday feel less lonely.
6. Track Your Habits
Habit tracking is one of the best tips for feeling unmotivated when working from home. Sometimes, remote work funk is a side effect of unhealthy workday behaviors. For instance, perhaps taking too many breaks during daytime hours can cause you to work late into the night. Or, spending most of the day in Zoom meetings may cause you to feel irritable or sluggish. Recording your work days can help you identify and eliminate unhelpful behaviors.
The opposite is also true. Remote workers often receive less positive reinforcement than in-office employees, and virtual employees may feel less productive and effective than they really are. Tracking wins and good habits can prove that even when you finish the day with items left on your to-do list, you might accomplish more than you think. This approach helps you more accurately gauge your progress and performance. Plus, having a visible measure of your productivity encourages you to keep up the good work.
7. Step Away from the Screen
Logging offline and stepping away from the screen may be easier said than done. Zoom fatigue is a growing phenomenon, yet there is often little escape from staring at screens in 100% remote offices. The reality is that virtual work involves a great deal of staring at computers, and there is very little workaround for this fact.
However, that is not to say that all 8 hours of the work day must be spent in the same spot, staring at the screen the whole time. Workers who need time away from a laptop or desktop can seek out offline activities. For example, organizing a swag-stash, meeting a prospective client for coffee, helping with a company philanthropy event, or attending an industry event or in-person training. It may be worthwhile to ask your employer for permission to swap out online to-dos for these real-world tasks.
With the help of a WiFi extender or LTE, you could also bring your phone, tablet, or laptop outside and enjoy fresh air while attending a Zoom meeting or working solo. Sometimes, it is not the screen itself that makes you feel sluggish, but rather feeling stuck indoors.
Remember also that you can use your meal break or structure your workday so that you can take a walk or run and escape from your inbox and video calls for an hour, at least.
8. Seek Out a Change of Scenery
Finding a new place to work out of is one of the best work from home burnout tips. Switching environments can be a way to re-energize and refocus when working remotely. For instance, digital nomads wander while working, setting up makeshift home offices while traveling to different cities and countries. You do not need to hit the road full time to switch up your remote work setup. From time to time, working in a new location for one week, one day, or even just a few hours may be enough of a change to bust you out of a rut.
Easy options include visiting a nearby cafe, getting a day pass in a coworking space, renting a hotel room, or swapping home offices with a friend. In the worst case scenario, work out of a different room in your house or apartment.
Here is a guide to coworking spaces.
9. Vary Day-to-Day Tasks
Free from office distractions and interruptions, remote workers tend to be more focused and productive. However, when completing higher quantities of work, employees can also get sick of these duties much faster. Work from home burnout can be a result of boredom from doing repetitive tasks. This possibility is especially likely when the employee performs a single function on a loop all day. In offices, interacting with coworkers can break up the monotony. While working solo without socializing, the mundane seems more like a chore. The work day can become too predictable, and there may be very little excitement, uncertainty, or unexpectedness to challenge and stimulate the remote worker.
To overcome fatigue and burnout, add new elements into your typical procedure. For example, offer to help another department, ask to learn a new skill, or take on a special project.
10. Carve Out a New Work Routine
Many work from home jobs provide flexible schedules and freedom, yet many folks cling to 9 to 5 out of habit. If you work more productively in shifts rather than a straight 8 hour block and your employer is not a stickler for schedules, then there is no reason to force yourself to power through. Embracing your natural work rhythms can help you feel better about working remotely. For instance, beginning early in the morning, working evenings, or taking a long break midday. Perhaps you have non-work responsibilities that are easier to tend to during the day.
Without the constraints of a physical office, there is no reason to stick to a schedule that does not serve you. Feel free to create your ideal workflow. Also, once you find a routine, do not feel obligated to stick to it. Your feelings and habits may change, and there is no need to stick to practices that no longer suit you. As long as you communicate your availability to your team, there is no shame in changing up your routine.
11. Re-establish Boundaries Between Work and Home
One of the biggest causes of work from home fatigue is a lack of boundaries between work and home. Telecommuters may run errands or do chores between meetings, or check emails and appear in Zoom meetings late into the night. Many folks work in the same spots where they sleep or hang out off the clock, which can contribute to the sense that they are always at work.
Separating office space from living space and cultivating a healthy work life balance is a key to sanity. When borders break down and your work from home hygiene gets lax, re-introduce boundaries. For instance, set up a desk in a designated area of the house. During on-hours, work exclusively in this space, and do not visit this area off the clock. Another tactic is to maintain a strict “quitting time,” and log off at a designated hour. This limitation may force you to practice better time management, instead of procrastinating because you know you have the option of working later.
12. Add Physical Activity Into the Work Day
Many times, WFH fatigue is a side effect of getting less exercise. In traditional workspaces, coworkers travel between offices and common rooms, whereas telecommuters may work in the same spot all day.
Adding exercise into the workday can release endorphins and provide a much needed mood boost. Perhaps watch training modules while on the treadmill, or take a midday lunch break to take a walk. Or, set a timer and get up to stretch and walk around for five minutes at the end of each hour.
You can even make exercise a group activity, for instance, meeting up on a video call with coworkers to do yoga or following a 10 minute cardio routine on YouTube together. Or, you can download a social running app or complete a workout challenge with your remote colleagues.
13. Give Yourself a Break– Literally and Figuratively
While there are many benefits to remote work, working from home can be hard. Many folks find it difficult to focus when not observed by bosses or colleagues, while others miss the energy and sense of connection with colleagues. Even employees who thrive on virtual work experience tradeoffs and struggles.
Beating yourself up is rarely productive. In fact, being too hard on yourself is likely to sink your morale further and make you work even slower. When your work from home days become a slog, the solution may be to back off instead of doubling down.
Feel free to allow yourself a few minutes to get distracted or a few hours off to recharge. If your company’s policy allows, then take a mental health day. Acknowledge that even if work from home offers freedom in some aspects, other elements can zap your energy. You are not weak for needing to rest now and then.
Instead of punishing yourself for failing to meet your high expectations, try motivating yourself with rewards or events to look forward to. Coworkers may not be around to pick up on your blues and cheer you up, so it is important to be your own cheerleader.
Working from home provides many benefits, such as flexibility and the lack of a commute. However, remote workers may also work longer hours, have to share workspaces with family or roommates, and feel disconnected from the rest of the company. Add in a lack of physical activity and social interaction, pains from having wrong equipment, staring at screens, and it is easy to see how remote workers can get fatigued. Luckily, there are many ways to combat work from home blues.
Part of this battle is about accepting the fact that working from home is a different experience from working in the office, setting realistic expectations, and programming good habits. Work from home fatigue may feel permanent and insurmountable in the moment, however the feeling often passes. Regardless, you should not bet that the slump will go away on its own. There are many precautions that can prevent remote work burnout, and actions that can counteract the condition. Above all, be open to change and experimentation, and ask for help when and if you need it.
Next, check out the pros, cons, and best ideas for working from home.