Corporate Self-Care: The ‘Out of Office’ Movement Reminds Us to Breathe

Trends
December 23, 2020
5 minute read

Abigail Shipps

Content Marketer
at
Yaguara
Abigail is a creative well-versed in writing and developing digital content. She enjoys exploring the relationship between modern social influence and the eCommerce landscape, as well as the increased focus on transparency and tactility with digitally native brands.
“If we are absorbed by our work and the daily grind, it’s a lot easier to shy away from introspection and reflection, and we avoid creating moments of serendipity and space for new ideas."

Corporate Self-Care: The ‘Out of Office’ Movement Reminds Us to Breathe

As we’ve discussed before, self-care is thriving like never before. DTC brands are sprouting left and right with not only self-care products, but also information about how to implement practices in one’s daily life. We are familiar with bubble baths, meditation, skin care, and overall wellness when it comes to the information out there – but many people experience another layer to their day-to-day that needs to be addressed: work. 

For as much as “work-life balance” is thrown around, few people actually feel confident in their understanding and maintenance of the working person’s nirvana. Luckily, a “work and play movement” is helping people understand the importance of decompressing, relaxing, and playing outside of work. 

Burning [Out] the House 

2020 has notably shaken all work from home, job burnout, and “Sunday scaries” standards. With the increased number of people working from home due to social distancing precautions, the line between work and home life blurs exponentially due to an overwhelming increase in stress – to be expected when working during a pandemic. Adjusting to new collaboration routines, struggling to turn work “off” when your home office is the couch, and helping to combat the health crisis as an essential worker are just a few instances of stresser points. As a result, job burnout runs deep– “burnout” being a term coined by American psychologist Christina Maslach in the late 70s that refers to “a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress.”

On a smaller scale, the “Sunday scaries” introduces a cyclical stressor. Roughly defined by NBC as anxiety that builds up before the beginning of a new week, the scaries are felt by college students everywhere in a normal world (as a former college student, I can confirm this). Nowadays, everyone seems to feel the Sunday scaries– just ask Will deFries, host of The Sunday Scaries Podcast. DeFries aims to “cure the Sunday blues” with his “short, relatable, and interesting” conversations. The podcast helps provide a reprieve to the heightened burnout and Sunday scaries of the current moment. 

Job burnout and striking a balance between work and life have proven to be two sides of a tipping scale: to truly strike a balance, one must be aware of burnout and its symptoms. There is an understanding of the need for a boundary– at some point, the computer needs to close. But even then: who is to say what one does out of the office? What can you do out of the office– does it need to be productive? Is it lazy to do nothing? 

According to a New York Times article, the toil brought on by hustle culture “is glam, and it is becoming mainstream.” Many workers are under the impression that being “always on” is important, when in fact it can be extremely detrimental. Productivity is an impressive achievement to exude, however many believe that cranking out work in every spare moment, even after hours, is impressive. However, it’s quite the opposite: not only does this productivity trap lead to job burnout, but it leads to a sacrifice of a true work-life balance, and even much of one’s personal life, for that matter. Moreover, hustle culture might actually be impacting a company’s output in the end. 

Another perspective is clearly needed to help tackle this in-or-out-of-the-workplace conundrum. Perhaps, it’s from Alice Katter: creator of Out of Office

All Work and No Play– No Way

Out of Office gets to the point: work burnout is real and absolutely not fun. Alice says that the platform was inspired by her own time working: 

“Through my own journey of working in different agencies across the world, I noticed that especially as creatives and problem-solvers, it‘s the time we spend outside of the office– working from different places, getting fully engaged in a passion, a hobby, traveling and meeting new people– that we are opening ourselves up to new ideas, daydreaming and imagining.”

 

The monthly newsletter and “thought-platform” provides an inspirational space for followers to learn, explore, and ultimately utilize resources to better shape the modern work culture and redefine the relationship between work and play– play being anything from going on a run, meditation, painting, reading, thinking, and the like. The site’s resources include sleep guides, what to do when you feel like you’re spiraling, the power of serendipity, and much more. 

Alice notes that she began Out of Office “to combat the burnout of office life, our hustle culture, lack of boundaries, and constantly being ‘on’.” With our always-on-hustle culture, we often get stuck at our desks, thinking we are too busy to take breaks or do things outside work.

“If we are absorbed by our work and the daily grind, it’s a lot easier to shy away from introspection and reflection, and we avoid creating moments of serendipity and space for new ideas. My aim is to encourage new ways of working and support a new workforce to find creative inspiration, balance, create meaningful connections and integrate rest and play into their work lives by offering the resources they need. With the resources and tools I provide, I want to help people and companies redesign their working life and culture, and encourage businesses and people to assign time dedicated to thinking and daydreaming.”

And dreaming the platform’s followers do: the Out of Office Instagram is a serene, recreational mood board with calming and uplifting tones of green and orange, and the voice of the newsletter is tangible and relatable. With the dreamy design, coupled with a message centered on carving time out for fun and inspiration, strong branding reads loud and clear from all directions– no doubt due to Alice’s brand strategy background. 

With her platform’s strong messaging, Alice asserts that the time spent not working is just as important, if not more important, than the time spent working:

“We want to create a space for people to step away from the guilt of taking breaks, time off and letting our minds wander - which, in our contemporary work culture, is often seen as ‘lazy.’ To us, the magic lies in stepping away from routine and our desks in order to slow down time. ⁠Let our minds wander and play, which, now, is more important than ever.”

The New Normal

In a time where the term “work life balance” is being thrown around, and feelings of disconnection are more rampant than ever, platforms such as Out of Office remind everyone to exhale. Alice’s work tells everyone experiencing burnout at their desks perhaps what they already know, but need a little push, especially given this year’s extraordinary circumstances. For instance: action requires rest, and “play” has the power to benefit an individual and an organization as a whole. 

Many companies have been lauded for their work-life balance nirvana. According to Glassdoor reviews, some of the top companies that have mastered the balance include Acuity, Sage Intacct, Slack, and Zoom. The secret sauce? Making sure employees take time off. 

So there you have it: out of office is in, and surely here to stay as the workforce embarks on defining a new normal– one that combats the current state of job burnout and cases of the Sunday scaries. With an estimated 40% of people reporting their job burnout stems from COVID-19 stress alone, now is the time to close the computer and reward yourself with some play. Similar to the offerings of self-care brands, the movements fueled by The Sunday Scaries Podcast and Out of Office Network provide resources for people to actually implement practises into their daily lives– whether that’s reading a book, painting, or just sitting in some grass outside. 

New to the out of office movement? Alice created a guide with simple tips on how to cultivate off work practises. Find it HERE.


“If we are absorbed by our work and the daily grind, it’s a lot easier to shy away from introspection and reflection, and we avoid creating moments of serendipity and space for new ideas."

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