The past year has presented a number of challenges to our business as a result of Covid-19. Here, Kirsten Duffin, Head of Global HSEQ for Marine Services, talks through the challenges of burnout and some steps we can follow to mitigate the risks.
When the pandemic hit back in March 2020, many of our offices across the world had to quickly transition to homeworking. In nearly all cases, this was a success, and we were able to continue providing flawless service delivery to our customers with most of our workforce based from home for a period of time.
One of the downsides we quickly identified with homeworking was the increased possibility of burnout. Burnout is a specific type of work-related stress, defined as “a state of physical and emotional exhaustion”. We can be more at risk of it when working from home because the boundaries between our work life and our home life get blurred.
Burnout has three recognisable components or ‘signs’ to watch out for –
- Exhaustion – feeling ‘wiped out’ – emotionally, physically and mentally.
- Becoming cynical – demotivated, disengaged, you may even distance yourself from your colleagues.
- Feeling ineffective – you may feel like you can’t keep up, and that simple tasks that you used to do well are suddenly beyond your capability.
If we’re working from home it can be really hard to switch off, but we need to get our work-life balance just right to support our mental wellbeing. Being available 24-7 is not a badge of honour; it can do more harm than good and hides workload problems that should otherwise be addressed.
At V.Group, we’ve given the following advice to colleagues to ease the onset of burnout:
- Set up a firm working routine, with core start and finish times and try to stick to them.
- Learn to say no to unnecessary meetings, or reschedule them.
- Outwith your agreed hours, switch your laptop off, and put your mobile phone down – give your mind a rest from work.
- Set realistic deadlines for yourself. If you make everything a priority then, by default, nothing will get priority.
- If your tasks are falling behind – speak with your line manager and together agree on a supportive course of action. It’s important to speak-up and be honest, so you can get the help you need.
- Look after yourself and take regular breaks. Utilise your annual leave and, when you’re not working, try to switch off so you can reset.
Learn to recognise the signs of burnout – exhaustion, becoming cynical and feeling ineffective – take steps to adjust your work-life balance, speak up and ask for help if you need it. If you are worried about a colleague, talk to them. It’s vital we all look out for each other.