The shift to working from home during the pandemic has offered some much-needed flexibility for many workers. Still, this newfound freedom has also caused many professionals to become addicted to work. A recent survey revealed that 45% of remote employees now work more hours during the week than before.
Work-related issues can not only affect your mental but physical health too. That’s why we’ve asked Professor Sir Cary Cooper, Advisory Board Member at Delamere, to share how you can spot and prevent work addiction, as more people are working from home during the rise of Omicron.
What is work addiction?
Work addiction, also known as workaholism, is the inability to switch off your professional life. It is driven by the need to achieve status and success. Similarly, those who suffer from a work addiction tend to get a high from getting good recognition for their efforts and completing a task.
You work more than intended
If you find yourself skipping your lunch break and working long hours into the evening, this is a definite sign that you’re putting too much pressure on yourself. When working in the same space you live in, and it can be especially difficult to establish boundaries and know when to switch off.
Delamere’s survey reveals that one in four adults increased their alcohol consumption during the lockdown in the last year. As we find ourselves working from home again, there could be a possibility that this trend will remerge. With this in mind, if you find the urge to break into the bottle every night, this could be a sign that you’re using alcohol as a de-stressor from working long hours.
You’re using work to escape your problems
People use their addictions as outlets to escape what they’re going through in their life. Those with a work addiction tend to dive headfirst in their work to distract themselves from the problems occurring in their lives. With the surging spread of the Omicron variant and the general January blues, it’s expected that people will feel the need to do this.
You have trouble sleeping
As the mind is so alert during the day, people with a work addiction tend to suffer from insomnia. This is common when someone works in the same bedroom they sleep in.
Not working stresses you out
When it gets to the evenings or weekends, and you feel on edge due to not working, this is a key sign that you’re addicted to your work. This feeling tends to stem from guilt from not being able to devote yourself to your job all the time.
You are deprioritising aspects of your personal life
If you can’t remember the last time you made time for yourself, this is another indicator you’re working too much. Similarly, if you aren’t exercising, eating takeaways way too often and meeting up with friends less regularly, this is also a warning that you need to take a break from your work life.
Your loved ones have voiced their concerns
You should always trust your loved ones to let you know when something is wrong. That said, if you’ve received comments about your working lifestyle from the individuals close to you, it’s time to take action.
How to deal with work addiction and what to do about it
Workplace addiction is an increasing concern among Brits, with searches for workaholism increasing by 92% since the government announced a return to working from home.
We asked Professor Sir Cary Cooper, advisory board member at Delamere, how individuals suffering from work burnout can deal with the symptoms and how you avoid feeling a little more than worn out.
What can you do to avoid work addiction if you struggle to put down your laptop?
Professor Sir Cary Cooper says: ‘If the last 20 months have taught us anything, we should be taking the time to switch off and to relax with loved ones when we’re not working. This means if you have emails or messages coming to your phone, switch them off so that you aren’t distracted or thinking about work when you should be relaxing.’
What can employers do if they are concerned about a staff member?
‘If you are concerned that a staff member is becoming addicted to work, there are a few telltale symptoms that you can look out for, including acting withdrawn, looking physically exhausted, over-using substances like alcohol or drugs or using work as a form of escape.’
‘To help keep work addiction to a minimum, managers should not send any email outside of working hours, even if it’s work that can wait until the new year. For those that might struggle with addiction to their job, receiving an email like this could cause the person to start working again when they should be resting.’
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