COVID-19 crisis: Say bye-bye to Work-From-Home burnout

Work from home (WFH) – the new work concept, a result of the intensity and severity of COVID-19 virus is here to stay for quite some time. At the start, it was pleasant to work from home, as the prospect to work in their own choice of outfits and at their own discretion appeared enjoyable. However, gradually, as the economy sought to get back on its feet, establishments started functioning in full steam and the gravity of delivering started to intensify.

Service sectors like IT, ITes, Telecom, Banking & Finance, online education and others started to gather momentum and demand suddenly is on the rise on servicing customers. It is not common among urban Indians to reside in large apartments or plush houses to accommodate office-like features at home.

People have started to come upon domestic challenges and it is resulting in utter discord and chaos. To some it has come to the point that working from office is anytime better as you have all infrastructure ready in office like a dedicated work station, internet facility, data security, board room or meeting rooms for presentations or team meetings which all lacks at home.

Sonal Sheth, Counselling Psychotherapist, Bhatia Hospital, Mumbai, points out, “Physical problems which can occur are hypertension, panic, headaches insomnia, weakened, immune system, chronic fatigue.” Anger and irritation on change of status quo, lack of focus, indulgence to digital media, and in some individuals, mild depressive cases may even lead to severe depression.

Plight of women

Contrary to reports in certain sections of the media that quoted white collar employees supporting WFH, the emerging scenario in India is strikingly diverse.

Savya Tripathi, a 33-year-old IT professional found the first month of lockdown to be pure bliss. The pressure of commuting to work from point A to point B wasn’t there. And, she could spend quality time with her husband and 9-year-old son. Back then work stress wasn’t much.

“However, work pressure has steadily mounted with tighter deadlines. Since the house-help isn’t coming yet, the pressure of household chores while doing office work is telling on my health. My son too needs the laptop for online classes and my husband, of course, tries to help out, but… I wish I could resume my normal routine of attending office,” she adds.

But it isn’t smooth sailing for recently married couples either. Hetal Parekh, a 28-year-old PR executive, says, “Pre-lockdown, I had an enjoyable work-life scenario. Now, with zero ‘me-time’ in our 1BHK apartment, it’s claustrophobic. We keep squabbling over trivial matters. I just can’t wait for my office to re-open.” Experts suggest couples must indulge in mutually interesting hobbies.

Client ordeal

Across sectors, clients have become more demanding and extracting more from servicing teams. Since the client representatives are also in WFH mode, they themselves must be under pressure from their bosses to improve output. This domino effect will ease only after the offices re-open and normalcy sets in.

Adaptability is the virtue that ensures the survival of the fittest, confirms Life Coach Geet Batra of Magic Possibilities, adding “If you are stuck with a situation; do a re-prioritisation of objectives and see if your values are being fulfilled.”

Cultural discrepancy

For many young executives, originally from small towns but presently working in metros for a few years, going back to their hometown is now a cultural shock. Nitin Yelande, a 34-year-old HR Manager says, “I had an independent life in Mumbai. Going to work, catching up with friends for drinks over weekends made life pleasant. Now that I am back in Hyderabad with my parents, I have zero private space, no parties no drinks. I find my parents’ interference in everything I do, very stifling. I just wish to get back to my old routine.”

Geet Batra observes, “An office, to individuals, is not about desks, chairs, and workstations; it represents a place, where employees socialise with each other, make friends, eat their lunch together. In WFH mode, employees are also missing across-the-table mentoring and ‘on the job’ learning that happens with observing people around, and camaraderie that persists and supports.” He suggests, “Communicate with family members, strike a balance between conflicting objectives. Exercise your will power to see yourself safe and sane through these pandemic times.”

Try these tips

Sonal Sheth, Counselling Psychotherapist, Bhatia Hospital Mumbai on how to handle physical and mental stress:

* Plan some “me” time doing an activity that you enjoy. Join an online dance or art class.

*Exercise, yoga meditation are great stress busters to relieve pressure.

*Create a separate work area for yourself, even if it’s a small area at home.

* Plan a schedule for kid’s activities, household chores so that you can focus on work without distractions.

*Set boundaries with your boss and colleagues for eg. no calls after work hours in the evening or on weekends.

*Lack of social bonding has led to loneliness mechanical way of working, decreased ability to handle pressure. So, it’s necessary to daily connect with family, friends and colleagues.

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