Meet "Boreout," Burnout's Blasé Cousin

So bored
So bored
Frédéric Méduin with Audrey Kucinskas

PARIS â€" Are you bored at work? Do you stare blankly at your screen wondering what to do with the rest of your day? No doubt, you are a victim of "boreout," which describes persistent boredom and disengagement in your work. What causes this listlessness and how can you solve it? Frédéric Méduin, a physician and occupational therapist, offers some insight.

Many situations can lead to boredom at work. The first is an insufficient workload, both in terms of quality and quantity. Overly repetitive tasks can be the source of boreout, even when they are time-consuming.

Company reorganizations or a transfer to a new unit can also give rise to this feeling because not all workers adapt easily to new workplace configurations.

It's also true that people are rarely equal in terms of job efficiency. Even with similar qualifications and experience, no two people are going to achieve the same results in the same amount of time. So it's inevitable that certain people will become bored more quickly.

Boreout is also linked to inadequate social interaction. A job itself may be interesting, but lack of engagement with co-workers or geographic isolation, such as working at home, can be sources of boredom and frustration.

People whose skills and expertise aren't being sufficiently tapped are most at-risk of this toxic office ailment. Hyperactive adults also experience this phenomenon at a disproportionate rate, even though they often are deeply involved with their work. It can happen even when their qualifications and workload are in sync. They often need to compensate for workplace boredom by adding professional side projects or investing themselves more in personal activities.

The great workplace taboo

It's rare for people in workplace environments to openly express their sense of boredom because it's taboo. And variations in the workload over time can make it hard to combat this pernicious feeling. An employee who is bored during a lull may find themselves stressed and tired during a busier cycle.

The situations in which workers might feel more empowered to voice their problems of boredom are typically temporary â€" during a restructuring, for example, or when a new work unit is created.

One solid strategy to combat the problem is to address the sense of isolation rather than boredom. Instead of complaining about an insufficient workload, someone might express a desire for tasks that are more collaborative.

Taking on additional training and education can also be a solution, with the added benefit of sharpening and growing professional qualifications.

An evolved practice of open performance reviews and check-ups between managers and employees can also resolve boreout. After all, avoiding boredom and disengagement requires a certain quality of management. An effective division of labor can often keep the doldrums at bay in the first place.

Finally, a workplace culture that values individual well-being also makes a big difference.

Keep up with the world. Break out of the bubble.
Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!

How Thailand's Lèse-Majesté Law Is Used To Stifle All Protest

Once meant to protect the royal family, the century-old law has become a tool for the military-led government in Bangkok to stamp out all dissent. A new report outlines the abuses.

Pro-Democracy protest at The Criminal Court in Bangkok, Thailand

Laura Valentina Cortés Sierra

"We need to reform the institution of the monarchy in Thailand. It is the root of the problem." Those words, from Thai student activist Juthatip Sirikan, are a clear expression of the growing youth-led movement that is challenging the legitimacy of the government and demanding deep political changes in the Southeast Asian nation. Yet those very same words could also send Sirikan to jail.

Thailand's Criminal Code 'Lèse-Majesté' Article 112 imposes jail terms for defaming, insulting, or threatening the monarchy, with sentences of three to 15 years. This law has been present in Thai politics since 1908, though applied sparingly, only when direct verbal or written attacks against members of the royal family.

But after the May 2014 military coup d'état, Thailand experienced the first wave of lèse-majesté arrests, prosecutions, and detentions of at least 127 individuals arrested in a much wider interpretation of the law.

The recent report 'Second Wave: The Return of Lèse-Majesté in Thailand', documents how the Thai government has "used and abused Article 112 of the Criminal Code to target pro-democracy activists and protesters in relation to their online political expression and participation in peaceful pro-democracy demonstrations."

Criticism of any 'royal project'

The investigation shows 124 individuals, including at least eight minors, have been charged with lèse-majesté between November 2020 and August 2021. Nineteen of them served jail time. The new wave of charges is cited as a response to the rising pro-democracy protests across Thailand over the past year.

Juthatip Sirikan explains that the law is now being applied in such a broad way that people are not allowed to question government budgets and expenditure if they have any relationship with the royal family, which stifles criticism of the most basic government decision-making since there are an estimated 5,000 ongoing "royal" projects. "Article 112 of lèse-majesté could be the key (factor) in Thailand's political problems" the young activist argues.

In 2020 the Move Forward opposition party questioned royal spending paid by government departments, including nearly 3 billion baht (89,874,174 USD) from the Defense Ministry and Thai police for royal security, and 7 billion baht budgeted for royal development projects, as well as 38 planes and helicopters for the monarchy. Previously, on June 16, 2018, it was revealed that Thailand's Crown Property Bureau transferred its entire portfolio to the new King Maha Vajiralongkorn.

photo of graffiti of 112 crossed out on sidewalk

Protestors In Bangkok Call For Political Prisoner Release

Peerapon Boonyakiat/SOPA Images via ZUMA Wire

Freedom of speech at stake

"Article 112 shuts down all freedom of speech in this country", says Sirikan. "Even the political parties fear to touch the subject, so it blocks most things. This country cannot move anywhere if we still have this law."

The student activist herself was charged with lèse-majesté in September 2020, after simply citing a list of public documents that refer to royal family expenditure. Sirikan comes from a family that has faced the consequences of decades of political repression. Her grandfather, Tiang Sirikhan was a journalist and politician who openly protested against Thailand's involvement in World War II. He was accused of being a Communist and abducted in 1952. According to Sirikhan's family, he was killed by the state.

The new report was conducted by The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), Thai Lawyer for Human Rights (TLHR), and Internet Law Reform Dialogue (iLaw). It accuses Thai authorities of an increasingly broad interpretation of Article 112, to the point of "absurdity," including charges against people for criticizing the government's COVID-19 vaccine management, wearing crop tops, insulting the previous monarch, or quoting a United Nations statement about Article 112.

Juthatip Sirikan speaks in front of democracy monument.

Shift to social media

While in the past the Article was only used against people who spoke about the royals, it's now being used as an alibi for more general political repression — which has also spurred more open campaigning to abolish it. Sirikan recounts recent cases of police charging people for spreading paint near the picture of the king during a protest, or even just for having a picture of the king as phone wallpaper.

The more than a century-old law is now largely playing out online, where much of today's protest takes place in Thailand. Sirikan says people are willing to go further on social media to expose information such as how the king intervenes in politics and the monarchy's accumulation of wealth, information the mainstream media rarely reports on them.

Not surprisingly, however, social media is heavily monitored and the military is involved in Intelligence operations and cyber attacks against human rights defenders and critics of any kind. In October 2020, Twitter took down 926 accounts, linked to the army and the government, which promoted themselves and attacked political opposition, and this June, Google removed two Maps with pictures, names, and addresses, of more than 400 people who were accused of insulting the Thai monarchy. "They are trying to control the internet as well," Sirikan says. "They are trying to censor every content that they find a threat".

Keep up with the world. Break out of the bubble.
Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!