Working from Home and Mental State

One of the most important impacts of the pandemic is the fact that work schedules have altered. Before Covid-19, some people in particular industries worked from and some of us thought it was a privilege. Remote working has become quite the norm and the current thing. Home-based work life is now everywhere but one thing remains to be addressed: how is our mental health affected by remote work.

Business Life
  • Release Date: 20 May 2022
  • Update Date: 15 March 2024
  • Author: Speaker Agency
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Many organisations had to rethink how and where their employees work because of the workplace shutdowns put in place during Covid-19. Having gone through the pandemic, most of these organisations permanently adopted work-from-home policies. 

The perks of remote work are clear: no commuting and the possibility of saving money when you don’t go to the office. But there are also downsides to working from home ranging from distractions to technology issues, to feeling like you never stop work. 

Many remote workers feel they never stop working because they don’t leave the workplace. Family members and others create distractions at home that you wouldn’t get at work. If you run into technology problems, it may get really frustrating when you are far from in-person support. Video meetings can be more tiring than face-to-face meetings and interpersonal relationships may be harder to manage when you don’t see each other in person.

At the beginning stages of the pandemic, it was simply a necessity to work from home, not really a choice. Working from home by obligation has some disadvantages besides advantages for the people in the workforce. With the discovery of the vaccine, people also got used to living under the pressures of hygiene regulations which allowed us to invent another term: ‘hybrid work’.

It was quickly realised that going into work is not utterly necessary (unless the job description required otherwise). It seemed like a waste to spend time in traffic and try to find the right combination of clothes each day.

The flexibility and time saving aspects of working from home unfortunately come with insufficient space for work and the imbalance between work and home life. The effects of working from a distance for a prolonged time should never be underestimated.

Our Mental State and How it’s Affected by Working from a Distance

The new work schedules and the effects of it need to be explored extensively. Also, it would be helpful to understand the situation of those who adapted well to the new ways of working and those who couldn’t. There are some disadvantages of working from home, that’s understood. Let’s take a look at them:

  • There is no physical separation between work and leisure time. The absence of a clear division between personal and professional life can create anxiety which may lead to working from home depression.
  • There is a possibility of misreading cues via electronic communications. Many people who work from home express feeling “lonely”. As they go on about work via emails and other channels of digital communication, they have difficulty getting the tone right. Without facial expressions, body language and other cues, remote workers need to work harder on maintaining positive relationships.
  • There is less in-person time with colleagues and co-workers. It may sound like a wonderful thing to have more time with loved ones at home and less for those who annoy you (if that’s the case at work) but having face time with co-workers is important. Especially if you are in a team where socialising is enjoyable and you get work done by interacting with each other.
  • You need to be more self-motivated. Remote workers have to motivate themselves to get the task done. This might put a strain on mental health as well because trying to manage time to complete work is a stressful element in work life.

Time Management

We all felt relaxed when we saw that we had more time for ourselves while working from home. The fact that commuting was out of the way and the lack of stress caused by the workplace relations were quite positive results. It’s possible to say for those who live in big cities, their quality of life has actually improved.

People with self-discipline and are good at time management adapted to working from home quickly. Still, the pandemic itself and the changed work schedules came with a set of difficulties. It was observed that motivation and productivity decreased. 

People who needed the social environment at work to build a business plan were observed to lose productivity. High performance is directly related to a healthy mindset and a balanced mental state. We work better when we feel better. It’s been observed that working from home creates a different form of stress and if untreated this can lead to working from home depression.

Social Distancing

Due to new regulations regarding work conditions, company meetings and all related togetherness have been taking place in digital environments. As physical contact was risky and minimised, the interaction between work peers was also reduced. 

This resulted in employees feeling lonely because the meetings were held on digital platforms out of obligation with the help of technology which put ‘work’ (but only work) in focus and did not allow people to socialise. As the meetings became solely for duties to be carried out, the bond between the company and the team grew weaker and weaker.

Companies and the executives will find it necessary to think deeply about our changed socialising ways and explore new communication tools and ways to tackle the issue.

The fact that employees are feeling lonely and not belonging to the company is a serious negative situation for businesses. Keeping the office environment active and accessible (instead of closing down the entire office place) will allow the employees to come into work if they want to. Therefore a hybrid working model is worth exploring.

Work Life and Home Life, The Balance

Time management is the crucial factor about the balance between work and home life. Employees with families experienced a good deal of hardship at home for it was difficult to create a workspace at home when there are children present. In some countries, there were school lockdowns which resulted in children being home all the time. 

Home became an environment where work, school work and household chores are combined and many families found it quite difficult to cope with this new environment. Spousal problems and family issues were reported to be in increase.

Both the employers and the employees can do a few things to correct the imbalance. Employers can stop asking the employers to be online on an undivided basis which puts extra pressure on the employees. On the other hand, employees can work out an efficient schedule for their professional and family-related responsibilities and improve their communication with their family members.

Job Security and Stress

The stagnating effects of the pandemic on the economy have been worrisome for all. Working from home created an environment where the end results could be overlooked which brought added stress into the equation. 

This period, when the communication became thin, put extra stress on the employees for they thought they could lose their jobs. With so many questions on their minds, employees need to feel cared for by their employers. Clearly, it’s not easy for the employers either but, they have to do their share. Even with the fact that the work is being done away from the premises, employers should make the employees feel needed, wanted and appreciated.

Research conducted by Deloitte in 2020 shows that 72.9% of people say “yes” to the question “Should work from home be extended even after the Corona-virus pandemic?” Obviously most working people would like to continue to work from home despite the disadvantages. 

It’s possible to say they would adopt the hybrid working method in the future. In an ever-changing world, employers and employees are going to have to work out a way to meet the needs of both sides by taking the right steps. 

In the wake of the pandemic, weighing the advantages and disadvantages of working from home has become more important. If you’re given the choice to work from home permanently, you need to think through each of the pros and cons of remote work in order to find a solution that matches your priorities. 

Obviously remote work has benefits, but no situation is perfect. Understanding the reasons to work from home -as well as the reasons not to- will go a long way in learning how to work from home successfully.  

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