Working from home may feel like a dream come true—or a nightmare unfolding. It all depends on your perspective.
For the past year, ever since most states announced mandatory stay-at-home orders, many accountants have been working from home. And while that’s not necessarily a bad thing in and of itself, it may be compounding our stress levels.
A 2017 report from the United Nations indicates that people who work from home report higher levels of stress than people who commute to an external office every day. It’s not the home environment that increases stress, but the interruptions, lack of specific business hours and frequent use of mobile devices that is adding layers of stress to the already pandemic-stressed-out population.
While we may still be many months away from a full return to business as usual, there are many techniques to reduce stress and avoid burnout that you can try … from the comfort of your home.
Establish Clear Work and Home Boundaries
One of the biggest areas of added stress for accountants working from home is the blurring or blending of “home” versus “work” time. When commuting to the office every day, there is a clear distinction between work and home hours, with the time to commute the transition period between each. Move work to your kitchen table and suddenly there is no transition between work and making dinner, or helping kids with their homework, or any of the other homemaking tasks waiting for you.
If having a home office (with a door that closes against noises and distractions) isn’t possible for you right now, establishing clear and definite “work” and “home” hours is necessary. Create your own “after work” ritual. One CPA shuts her laptop each night and says aloud, “Mission accomplished.” It sounds silly, but this is her psychological cue that work is done for the day and it’s time to transition back into her off-duty self as a wife, mother, and avid yoga enthusiast.
Stagger Video Conferencing Hours
Zoom fatigue is real. Whether it’s everyone’s new favorite video conferencing tool or one of the many options available, feeling exhausted and drained after too many video conferences in one day is reality. Humans are hardwired to pick up a multitude of social cues, from facial expressions to posture, that may be lost or misunderstood on a small video screen. Add that to feeling like you’re on a stage or a movie set every day with the cameras rolling and it’s easy to see how video conferencing fatigue is more than a myth—it’s reality.
To avoid feeling frazzled and burned out from too many video chats, leave plenty of time between each call. Get up and walk around your house or go outside if you have a garden or place to get away from your computer for a few minutes. Note how many calls per day feels comfortable for you and seek to balance urgent requests against the need for your own time away from video conferencing. It may not always be possible, but at least knowing why you feel so exhausted after four hours of back-to-back video meetings can help.
Find Your Happy Place
Lastly, find your own happy place. It may be in your rec room listening to your favorite music or in the kitchen baking an apple pie, but there is some place or activity for you that is very freeing and relaxing. That’s finding your happy place. And while it may be limited right now since we cannot gather safely indoors with many people, an alternative might exist that lets you shed some of that stress and feel like your old self again.
Welter Consulting bridges people and technology together for effective solutions for nonprofit organizations. We offer software and services that can help you with your accounting needs. Please contact Welter Consulting at 206-605-3113 for more information.