Written by Cassidy Jakovickas
As businesses everywhere attempt to recover from worldwide shutdowns and other unfortunate impacts of coronavirus, numerous phrases and words have been introduced. The ones you may recognize immediately are phrases like “new normal” and “great resignation,” but there are numerous other examples. Unfortunately, for all of our talk about recovery and progress, one important topic has been neglected: fatigue.
COVID-19 is tiring us out
In December 2020, the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) published research that highlighted the impact of post-COVID-19 fatigue on both our physical and mental performance. In fact, mental fatigue due to the coronavirus pandemic has become so prevalent that it’s been dubbed “COVID fatigue.” Symptoms of COVID fatigue include feeling tired even if you’ve got enough sleep, lacking motivation or a sense of purpose, and feeling isolated from loved ones.
Given the enormous impact that coronavirus has had on our mental wellbeing, it’s critical that we’re all honest and open about our mental health with others, whether it’s our coworkers or family members. We must normalize conversations about mental wellbeing so we can work with one another toward better coping and resolution methods.
Even if you aren’t dealing with mental or physical health challenges, you may still be grappling with other downsides accompanying the pandemic, like reduced social interaction. Depression and anxiety are increasingly common as we deal with the loss of loved ones or battle our fears regarding COVID-19 and our future. In addition, as companies adopt hybrid or fully remote work models, many employees struggle to stop working or pace their workload. However, I believe there are some ways that we can overcome the mental and physical impacts of the pandemic so we can enjoy a good quality of life, whether we work in the office, at home, or some mix of the two.
Tip No. 1: Control the information flow
There’s plenty of research that’s been done on the effects of information overload on our productivity and health. However, my team and I have experienced the impact of being “always tuned in” as we’ve vigilantly scoured the latest news on tax credit opportunities like the Employee Retention Credit (ERC), as well as relief loans like the Paycheck Protection Program, for our clients. Many days, reading the news can seem like drinking from a firehose, drowning both our focus and productivity in a flurry of clickbait headlines.
To combat the distracting nature of the news, I’ve learned to schedule specific times during the workday to check the news. This helps me stay focused on my work while also remaining informed about current events. Another strategy we’ve implemented within my accounting firm, MBS Accountancy, is to designate a few staff members as subject matter experts who dive deep into a specific topic and relay it to the rest of the team. It allows us to research topics thoroughly without hindering our ability to deliver work for our clients.
Tip NO. 2: Make a life, not just a living
Productivity is the main thing in business. At least, that’s the way it seems with all of the recent articles and videos about staying productive while working remotely. While I agree that staying productive at work is essential, I also believe that we shouldn’t jeopardize our health and quality of life for the sake of busyness. Beginning in 2020, as my team and I have dealt with crushing workloads and insane deadlines, we’ve learned to seize every moment with our family and friends. Taking advantage of downtime has allowed us to recharge and replenish ourselves, so we are ready for the challenges of the next workday.
As Dolly Parton said, “Don’t get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.” To balance personal wellbeing with productivity, staff at our accounting firm have learned to set up boundaries while working from home. For example, working in pajamas is possible while working from home, but getting dressed up in workwear can help you distinguish between work time and personal time. Another example is working between specific times each day, so you still get the workday structure.
Tip No. 3: Communicate clearly and often
Video meeting software like Zoom has surged in popularity as companies try to capture the in-person feel while working remotely. Since the pandemic started, my firm has adjusted to a hybrid work model, letting employees alternate between working from home and going into the office. And, while we’ve used Zoom for daily check-ins every morning, we’ve also learned to avoid “Zoom fatigue” by only scheduling meetings when needed, using Zoom’s “breakout rooms” feature, and encouraging screen-free time for staff periodically throughout the day.
Another way to stay connected with your staff is through 1-on-1 meetings. OfficeVibe reported that 96 percent of employees like receiving regular feedback. I’ve personally learned to align each employee’s professional goals with my firm’s growth goals, so they feel like a valuable part of the team and our success.
Leading through difficult times is a challenge. However, one important lesson I’ve learned as a CEO is that a leader is only as good as their team. If we can care for the people who work with us in the trenches, we’ll eventually discover their strengths and insight when we need them most.
Cassidy Jakovickas, CPA, is president and CEO of MBS Accountancy Corp. in Downtown Fresno.