Working remotely has become the new normal — but one downside may be the temptation it fosters to overwork.
Less face time with your boss and colleagues means you may feel the need to be “on” at all times, particularly if you’re worried about the stability of your job during a pandemic. But experts warn that neglecting to maintain a healthy work/life balance doesn’t benefit you personally or professionally. Here are 4 reasons to avoid overworking yourself while working from home.
IT IMPACTS YOUR PHYSICAL HEALTH
Studies show that chronic stress can weaken your immune system and interrupt healthy sleep habits. Overworking can also mean you’re not cooking (and eating) proper meals, spending enough time outdoors or moving your body.
One easy fix: Plan your workday meals in advance so you can make sure you’re eating right rather than just reaching for whatever’s easiest, suggests marketing entrepreneur Farissa Knox, who has had to manage a virtual workforce during the pandemic.
“We know how busy work days can be and how time flies by, so showing up with your big bottle of water, snacks and lunch saves you from having to decide on these items during your work day,” she says.
IT HARMS YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH COWORKERS
Beyond the negative effects on your body, job-related burnout can take its toll on your relationship with your coworkers. Overworking can trigger mental stress that makes you short-tempered, affecting your attitude toward others, says Alicia Hough, a corporate wellness expert at The Product Analyst.
“You may be able to fulfill your responsibilities and comply with tasks but cause irreversible relationship damage with workmates because your irritable feelings led to saying hurtful words,” Hough says.
One easy fix: Before tackling anything difficult at work, Knox suggests checking in with your breathing to maintain mental, emotional and spiritual stability. Pay attention to your breath flowing in and out of your body, the feelings you are experiencing and how they are showing up in your day — all it takes is a few minutes to get back to work with a clearer head. Practicing mindfulness can also help you avoid impulsive reactions to situations.
IT CONTRIBUTES TO A TOXIC WORK CULTURE
Comparing hours and turning exhaustion into a competition can tear down a team from the inside out, says Alex Azoury, founder and former CEO of Home Grounds, a remote coffee company.
“While some competition is a helpful incentive to innovate and be productive, it can also be destructive,” Azoury says. “People will hide knowledge from each other and become individuals rather than a cohesive team. This hustling, competitive culture makes employees paranoid about the consequences of underperforming, especially during times of economic uncertainty."
One easy fix: Don’t send emails in the middle of the night or expect people to respond to you outside of normal working hours. You’ll help create a more collaborative, healthier work environment for everyone.
IT DECREASES YOUR PERCEIVED VALUE
When you’re always available to your boss or colleagues, you miss a big opportunity to establish healthy boundaries — and you run the risk of people taking you and your time for granted.
“When you present yourself as someone who cares so much about concentrating on the quality of your work — because you're careful not to let yourself get interrupted — your value increases and puts you in a much better position for promotions, asking for raises or taking on more exciting projects," says business coach and web copy consultant Chelsea Baldwin.
One easy fix: Block off time in your calendar for your own deliverables so you can avoid getting called into Zoom meetings that don't require your virtual presence — and be clear with your colleagues about whether you have time to contribute to their projects.
Keep in mind that constantly grinding away, especially amid all the other stressors in the world right now, isn’t a long-term strategy.
“Overworking can set a high standard which may be difficult to sustain, and worse, cause you to overthink whether you are doing enough,” Hough says. “Whenever we program our minds that we can do much more than what’s expected of us, it’s more likely that we appreciate less of what we do, even if it’s enough for other people already.”