Director, Hays Accountancy & Finance Hays Recruitment
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Don’t let home working turn into over working

22nd Apr 2020
Director, Hays Accountancy & Finance Hays Recruitment
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It’s undeniable that the health of ourselves and our loved ones is our top priority, never more so than now, and may be the cause of anxiety for many. We are mindful of the challenges faced by many of our friends and family who are key and essential workers and all those still heading out to work, but for much of the workforce that is operating remotely, the pandemic will also have had an impact on our professional lives too.

Many employers are feeling the pressure of a strained operating environment and as such, there is even greater focus than before on efficiency and productivity and making more out of less. Managing these expectations as an accountant is stressful, particularly while working remotely. On top of already blurred professional and personal lives, many of us will be left susceptible to overworking and burnout.

The impact of being overworked can compromise our performance, impacts our mental and physical health and potentially damages our relationship with our job. At a time which is already testing health and wellbeing, it’s crucial that we try and avoid overworking where possible by putting in some simple measures like these below.

  1. Define your workspace

One of the simplest steps you can take to avoid burnout is devoting space in your home exclusively for work. Get yourself set up with a desk or surface to work on, a supportive chair and good lighting. If you don’t have a home office or spare room to work in, try your best to still create a workspace as distraction-free as possible. The idea behind this is that you’ll have a better chance of maintaining focus in your workspace and switching off outside of work time.

  1. Prioritise daily tasks

When you arrive at your workspace in the morning, it’s helpful to begin the day by being clear on your tasks and priorities. Refresh your task-list each day, as this will help you stay on track during a period when every day working from home can feel somewhat similar. You’ll get a sense of achievement at the end of each day ticking off your tasks and achievements and have a better chance of logging off at a reasonable time in the evening.

  1. Find the confidence to say no

Your organisation will be working hard to adjust to the current circumstances and many employers are demanding agility from their staff, particularly those in finance, to help with this. Therefore, you may find yourself being asked to change focus fairly regularly and sometimes work outside the remit of your role. While we all need to accept the challenges being faced by businesses, have the confidence to say no when you need to if you don’t have time. Don’t plough on if you feel overworked – politely voice your concerns to your manager and suggest tasks you might be able to re-prioritise, delegate or outsource. 

  1. Don’t underestimate the power of breaks

Whether it’s catching up with a colleague about their weekend or popping out to get lunch, taking a break often happens more organically in the office. Breaks are essential to refresh your focus and help you feel motivated at work, so be disciplined about getting away from your screen. Make a conscious effort not to eat from your desk space if possible and if you can, get some fresh air during the day while respecting social distancing guidelines. Don’t feel guilty about taking this time off, as it will benefit your productivity and focus in the long run. 

  1. Avoid the temptation of your work phone

When you leave your workspace for the day, do your best to properly distance yourself by turning off your work phone if you can and putting it out of reach. If this isn’t possible, perhaps change your notification settings in a way that means you only receive alerts that are really pressing. Or at the very least, limit the number of times you check it so you can properly switch off.

  1. Find purpose outside of work

While working remotely can take its toll on your work-life balance, there are still opportunities to having extra time and flexibility. Enjoy these by picking up a new hobby, reading more, increasing your exercise or dedicating quality time to spend with your family. Whatever it is, ensure it’s something non work-related which gives you a sense of purpose and reward. If you make the effort to do this consistently, it will become part of your routine and you’ll find yourself with reasons to switch off at the end of the working day.

It’s natural that many of us will be overworking to take our minds off the crisis going on around us and try and help our organisations at a time when trading has many challenges.

However, justifying overworking because of the crisis can get you into bad habits that will end up damaging your relationship with work and compromising your performance. Not to mention that it puts your health and wellbeing in danger, which ought to be our top priority during this time. Adopting some simple yet stringent measures like the ones above will help you avoid such consequences of overworking during what is one of the most testing times of our lives.

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