You are not alone! 2020 has offered the perfect foundation for feeling burnt out. As the crisis has unfolded many of us relate to doing more work with less resources, working longer hours, re-evaluating our purpose, managing an emotional rollercoaster whilst trying to remain continuously connected.

In a recent report put together by Mental Health Foundation it was highlighted how almost 9 out of 10 people in the UK are using at least one coping strategy to manage. Whilst the figures shared by the ONS to support increased anxiety and burnout levels are not as favourable (2), it is encouraging to read that people identify with strategies to support themselves. Acknowledging how our new way of working has created challenges is useful before implementing coping strategies.

Is the new way of working fuelling fatigue?

  • This year we have had to redefine traditional ways of connecting with the use of technology and ways to connect. Technology has thankfully enabled us to continue productively however this has come as a challenge too. Video comms mean we work harder to process non-verbal cues like facial expressions and tone. Petriglieri, an associate professor at Insead who explores sustainable learning and development in the workplace (3), says how “Our minds are together when our bodies feel we’re not. That dissonance, which causes people to have conflicting feelings, is exhausting.” Looking at your own face whilst you are simultaneously on centre stage to everyone can add to the pressure too.
  • Diminished commutes offer so many benefits including saving time, less air pollution and carbon emissions. According to a study conducted by Dr Jochen Menges of Cambridge (4) the lack of commute means a “role transition” falls away. Transitioning or switching roles from work to family becomes that much harder. The settling process that we were once used to helped manage thoughts and emotions and offered a focus and consolidatory period. Commuting from the dining room table to the kitchen means this buffer time falls away.
  • Pre-covid we lived in an “always on culture” where being very “busy” was celebrated. The pandemic has magnified this making it hard to maintain boundaries between home and work. To add, the constantly changing landscape has drawn us to news headlines and social media updates. Turning off devices when we are continually wanting answers presents a paradox.