COVID burnout is a very real thing. In fact, I cannot think of one conversation I’ve had with someone that didn’t address their high level of anxiety or stress that has been accumulating over the last 12+ months. This is especially true for the Business Continuity/ Crisis Management profession – many of whom have been working around the clock and over the weekends for months at a time. The increased workload is just one factor that is coming into play here, though. In addition, there is the anxiety over the unknown, a lack of control over the home environment, the inability to disconnect from work, and the deep sadness that blankets so many. I’m not writing this article to contribute to the different levels of angst that everyone is feeling. My purpose here is to help those who are suffering from COVID fatigue. Perhaps writing about this will prompt others to contemplate their own situation and take action to turn things around for the better. I also wrote a similar article this month for our Hiring Manager Quarterly newsletter and I thought it might be worthy to share some tips with a larger audience. Let’s dive right in and unpack the potential signs of COVID fatigue and discuss some helpful tips to turn things around and become more resilient.
Struggles with working from home: Just about everyone I’ve spoken to has struggled in adapting to work from home, even if they previously worked from home. Suddenly in a matter of days everyone was working/ homeschooling under one roof. I can definitely sympathize with juggling all the different schedules, helping younger kids with on-line school, connectivity issues, finding a designated work/ school space for everyone, not to mention all the additional cleaning and food that was consumed! Many others have been tormented with being all alone as work was their social outlet. The anxiety and loss of control over the home life balance and boundaries has been building up for everyone over time. Some have had it better than others, but everyone has been impacted.
Unmanageable workload – searching for work life balance: At times work can peak and extra hours are needed, but for many the pandemic has definitely taken its toll with 15+ hour days for more days than you can count! I would also like to argue that this is so much more than just your own workload, but more about the feeling of always needing to be “on”. Now that everyone has been working from home – it’s not just about you failing to log off of work, but all your associates, customers and management team. Emails are coming and going at all hours of the day and there is an element of pressure to really log off or monitor email constantly throughout the evening and over the weekends. I admit that I will work some late hours, but there is a lot to be said for being respectful of others and sending your email message under “delay delivery” for the next day during the work hours of the recipient.
Constantly Zooming: Is your schedule filled with too many “Zoomie” meetings? The National Bureau of Economics Research recently sponsored a study that analyzed data on more than 3 million people. The results showed that the amount of time people spend in meetings went up 13% and the average workday increased by 48 minutes. What’s even more challenging is that many of the Zoom meetings are scheduled back-to-back and I’m sure many of you have missed your breakfast or lunch time as a result. I do recognize the value of engaging with others via video, but it doesn’t need to be constant. Video calls are actually more stressful – they take a physical and mental toll. Without the in-person interaction we are left with trying to process facial expressions and body language. I personally struggle most with the delay in the connection. I’m either waiting for someone else to chime in or I’m speaking over someone else.
Your COVID anxiety level: I believe everyone has been challenged with all of the above. The key is to what extent and if you’ve been successful at truly taking technology breaks and completely shutting down during vacation. Additionally, there are 4 very key factors why others have survived the COVID pandemic better than others. One is having a better support group/ community. This can be anything from family, friends, co-workers, and all of the above who have helped you weather the storm. I know I have desperately missed my family located half-way across the US during this time. Another factor is being able to carry on somewhat normal activities and seeing people. Really, it comes down to looking forward to events and interacting with others outside of Zoom calls. Some individuals are fortunate to be located in geographies where the shut down was not as harsh or they had a stronger social circle to bond and interact with. Third, if you feel valued at work – a sense of purpose you are less likely to experience employee burnout. Lastly (and the most worrisome), if you had to help someone who was very ill, grieve a death, or help a loved one navigate depression than you’ve definitely been taking on an additional burden that I can sympathize with and my heart goes out to you.
Tips to overcome and become more resilient: Again, I’m not writing this article to add to the sadness. I’m writing this article because I’ve listened to so many stories from my Business Continuity associates and I believe there needs to be a voice to help others. No one is alone in this and there are steps to take to power through and become more resilient – in every which way.
- Talk to your co-workers and manager about your level of anxiety. More than likely if you don’t say anything, they’ll assume you’re ok. Work together on finding solutions.
- Increase your level of control with implementing a consistent daily routine – something close to what you had in place prior to the pandemic.
o Take breaks away from work – ideally outside and away from technology.
o Set a regular time to end your workday.
o Be sure to get plenty of sleep.
o Enjoy activities outside of work.
- Take breaks away from media (news or social). It might be better to replace this with 1-1 interaction with family or friends or call a loved one who haven’t seen in some time.
- Help others who are struggling.
These last 12 months have been a lot to take in. I hope this article does inspire you to become more resilient and/or reach out and help someone else become more resilient. And as always, we’re here to help you in meeting your career aspirations in any way that we can. Sign up for our BCM Career Alert notifications at https://www.bcmanagement.com/business-continuity-jobs to ensure you receive timely new career notifications matching your search preferences. Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions you might have. Arrange a complimentary discussion today at firstname.lastname@example.org.