How do you balance fatigue within the workplace?

Published: 16/12/2020
Author: Leigh McKay, Mental Health and Wellbeing Consultant, Workwise Wellbeing Solutions

Feeling Fatigued?

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.

Can building community & and a sense of connectedness help?

This year I was privileged to contribute wellbeing content to the Engage4 app. At the onset the focus was Wellbeing and my approach, as always, was to offer holistic content. Wellbeing is so subjective to everyone and to this end it is important for each of us to decipher our own unique code to good health. The code is made up of many key contributors including; managing stress, eating well, keeping active, having a good night’s sleep – providing a holistic approach to employee wellbeing.

An interesting benefit started to emerge specifically how the app offered a sense of community and connectedness, crucial contributors to mental and physical health. As humans we have an innate need to be involved with other people which in turn has a positive impact on our sense of security, belonging and self-esteem. Embracing connection means we can develop mutual respect, listen, build trust, and share feedback openly and honestly. Authentic connection could indeed help to reduce fatigue.

How can we combat fatigue through authentic connection?

Take ownership and manage our connection with each other and ourselves more effectively.

Sometimes we need to slow down to speed up.

Robin Sharma

Slowing down and focusing on one thing at a time equals better interaction and less energy cost for you – otherwise known as Mindfulness practice.

By incorporating mindfulness you can refresh your mindset by remembering to “Pay attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally”

Whether on video calls or on the phone consider paying attention wholly, listening with purpose and being present means eliminating all distraction. Imagine you have many browsers open on your laptop, how distracting this is but also how your laptop starts to slow. In a similar vein, close all the windows down and keep one open. The “trying to remove judgment” is difficult – as humans we are hard wired to judge! With genuine connection comes good listening skills and empathy.

It is not called Mindfulness “practice” for nothing as this does indeed take practice. The benefits of authentic connection: being heard, understood, listened too, sharing concerns and successes, value and appreciation all of which provide energy, a much-needed coping commodity in current times.

 

Work Wise promotes sustainable wellbeing initiatives within organisations and communities. We are proud to be partnering with Vidatec to providing exclusive wellbeing content for Engage4, their new workplace wellbeing platform.

For more information and latest offers visit https://engage4.vidatec.com/

References

(1) Resilience across the UK during the coronavirus pandemic | Mental Health Foundation
(2) Coronavirus and anxiety, Great Britain – Office for National Statistics (ons.gov.uk)
(3) The reason Zoom calls drain your energy – BBC Worklife
(4) Why your lack of a commute during the coronavirus pandemic could make it harder to work – Brain food – Insight – News & Insight – CJBS (cam.ac.uk)