When the COVID-19 shutdowns hit in 2020, many companies had to make the big decision of closing down entirely or transitioning to a remote workforce. Fast forward two years later, and it seems like this new setup may be here to stay.
However, while the arrangement has its perks, many employees are finding that they are working harder and longer than they were before. While that may seem like a good thing, lacking control can result in burnout and other unforeseen issues. Let’s talk about the difference between working hard and being a workaholic — and how you can strike a balance.
When asking whether or not remote work has increased workaholic tendencies, the answer is not so black or white. On the one hand, some studies have shown that remote workers spend 10% longer logged in each week. Meanwhile, other studies show that remote employees are actually more productive when working out of their house. Really, it all comes down to the behaviors of the individual.
There is a difference between occasionally working long hours and having a nagging desire to constantly be active and think about your job, as many workaholics do. The other question that you need to ask yourself is how easy or difficult is it for you to “switch off” once the workday is done? If you have trouble enjoying time with your family or thinking about anything else other than work, even while you are doing fun activities, then you may need to make a change.
Someone can also be considered a workaholic not only because they feel a duty to do their jobs but because they claim that they simply love what they do. It is great if you really enjoy your job since many people do not, but if you neglect everything else in your life and focus only on work, then you may be a workaholic, and like any addiction, you could be putting yourself at risk if you don’t make a change.
While there are many benefits to having a job, including the ability to make money and have a purpose in the world, your life cannot only be about work or your obsession could impact your mental health. Those who have an addiction to work can see an increased chance of burnout and emotional and nervous breakdowns. Plus, the more you work, the more likely you are to get stressed, and that can lead to deeper bouts of depression. If you don’t make a change, you can dig a hole too hard to escape.
Unending stress can also start to deteriorate your body and lead to serious physical ailments. For example, anxiety can lead to a lack of sleep and can cause you to forget to hydrate and eat proper meals. In addition to subjecting yourself to malnutrition, these negative habits can also start to suppress your immune system, which could put you more at risk of serious life-threatening conditions, including heart attack and stroke.
On top of all that, when a work addiction goes on long enough, it can result in decreased productivity and increased potential to make errors. So although you mean well, you won’t be doing your company any favors. Just remember that it is possible to work hard and stay healthy. You just need to lay down some ground rules.
To avoid stress and burnout, you need to create a healthy work/life balance, which you can do by setting and maintaining boundaries. The first step is to pick a time of the day when your workday officially ends. You’ll want to schedule your day accordingly, so you never go past that time. Some remote employees tend to work a bit longer to cover the time they would typically be commuting, but this is not necessary. Pick a reasonable time around 5 or 6 p.m., where you leave the office and do something you enjoy.
You’ll want to express these working hours to your management, so they know when to expect you at work and when you should no longer be contacted. At quitting time, turn off your computer and keep your work phone in your office. Doing so will ensure that you are not pestered by coworkers, and it will prevent you from sneaking a peek at your phone when you should be with your family.
It is also important that you take breaks throughout the day. Take at least two 15-minute breaks and an additional lunch break to get up, stretch your legs, get something healthy to eat, and fit in some exercise by walking around the block or jumping on the stationary bike. These breaks are essential because they give you a chance to clear your mind so you can return to work with maximum efficiency.
In the end, it is essential that you work hard but avoid becoming a workaholic. Consider the tips discussed here and create a work/life balance that will allow you to be productive while still appreciating the things that matter most.