How to combat workplace fatigue when returning to the office

Ash Cant
·5-min read

For those fortunate enough to still have a job during the coronavirus pandemic, many are now heading back to the office in Australia as things start to resemble something like "normal".

While some may enjoy being back in the office, surrounded by colleagues and getting back into the rhythm of things, others might be struggling.

This is something founder of @WORKSPACES, Jenny Folley, has seen first hand.

She told Yahoo News Australia while most people are keen and happy to get back to an office setting, they find themselves getting very tired.

While some people may be eager to get back to the office, others may struggle. Source: AAP/Getty Images
While some people may be eager to get back to the office, others may struggle. Source: AAP/Getty Images

"Getting back to the office means getting dressed and a commute, or even thinking ahead of time a preparing meals for the day," Ms Folley said.

"They would take a long time to adjust," she said. 

"A lot of them were saying that working from home, you'd get up and you didn't have to get dressed, you just get in to it, and within from say 7am to 9am they've completed almost a day's work."

Speaking to Yahoo News Australia, Joel Kleber, Jim's Group's Chief Digital Officer explains it's kind of like a catch 22, some employees work better from home, but being in the office does have its perks.

"You still can't substitute human interaction," he said, saying face-to-face conversations are better than a string of emails.

He said working from home allowed employees more time with their families, so it has been hard getting people to come back into the office.

From getting dressed every morning and commuting to an office, it's important people look after their mental health as they transition back into the workplace. Source: AAP
From getting dressed every morning and commuting to an office, it's important people look after their mental health as they transition back into the workplace. Source: AAP

How to combat workplace fatigue

Workplace fatigue is not a new concept and it can impact anyone.

"Workday fatigue can become a tedious recurrence if you do not implement strategies to nip it in the bud and set yourself up for a productive day," Ms Folley said

Luckily, Ms Folley has a few tips on how to combat workplace fatigue when you're back in the workplace.

She suggests moving every hour, to help keep you alert and prevent drowsiness. This could be achieved by taking a walk in the office and setting reminders to do so.

Ms Folley also suggests being mindful with what you consume — drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and be strategic with your caffeine consumption.

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Switching up your daily tasks may also help avoid fatigue — do more mundane things in the morning and things that interest you more later in the day to prevent the afternoon slump.

Other small changes like switching up your workspace within an office could also help — opt for a standing desk, use an exercise ball instead of a chair — small changes could make a big difference, Ms Folley says.

She also suggests keeping some fresh towelettes on hand to help keep you refreshed.

"Keep a store of fresh towelettes on your desk and whenever you are feeling tired, grab a few to freshen yourself up,” Ms Folley said.

Mr Kleber said Jim's Group is trying new things to encourage people to get back into the office — like a free buffet lunch and providing free fruit for employees on site.

How to transition back into the office

Getting back to the office is a huge adjustment and it is important you look after your mental health as you transition back.

Beyond Blue compiled a list of things you can do to manage your mental health going forward, the first is prioritising self-care by maintaining positive habits.

Perhaps the lack of having to commute gave you the freedom to pursue hobbies or passions during the lockdown and it's important to keep doing things that make you happy, even if you have less time.

It's important to keep doing things you love, even if you have less time due to commuting to work. Source: AAP
It's important to keep doing things you love, even if you have less time due to commuting to work. Source: AAP

"Lockdown has helped many people put the important things into perspective, so try not to lose that as you ease back into your ‘old’ life," Beyond Blue says.

Managing your information intake is also critical, during the pandemic, everyone got regular updates bout what was going on through the news or social media.

A mentally healthy workplace

Beyond Blue suggests getting information from reliable sources and seek advice from regulators and the government as it is "designed" to keep you safe.

Embrace the information given to you by your employer and try not to stress about things which are out of your control.

It's important to understand what a mentally healthy workplace means, Beyond Blue said.

It's important people know what a 'healthy' workplace looks like. Source: Getty Images
It's important people know what a 'healthy' workplace looks like. Source: Getty Images

Working from home, while a privilege, may have also resulted in a "grey area" for some where work and personal life mixed.

"Everyone has a role to play in helping create a mentally healthy workplace," Beyond Blue states. 

"With so much change to our ways of working, this period of transition is the ideal time to make sure you’re across workplace mental health risk factors, in order to avoid them."

And lastly, take the opportunity of being back in the office to reconnect with colleagues and socialise.

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