The transition to working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted workers’ mental health.
The recent health crisis has presented new and unique challenges to businesses and workers obligated to work remotely.
While remote work is not suitable for everyone, there is an ongoing discussion on its impact on work-life balance and workers’ overall health.
Here, we explore how working from home can affect one’s mental health.
Remote work exists even before the pandemic, but few companies and organisations put this into practice.
Following the introduction of state and national lockdowns and strict orders by the government in the early part of 2020, remote working became the new normal for the majority population.
Many businesses have adopted the new approach, and a few months into the pandemic, many still do not work at the office full time.
Studies suggest that opinion to remote work is a mixed bag. While some workers benefit from greater flexibility and more time at home, the other half experience the negative side.
Working from home defeats the purpose of work-life balance due to extended hours, limited support from employers, and other factors. All these can bring a negative impact on one’s mental health.
Here’s a rundown of how remote working affects workers’ mental health and behaviours.
Feeling of Burnout
The feeling of burnout is among the most concerning impact of home working. According to a recent study, a higher percentage of employees experience fatigue and exhaustion in the remote setup than those who go to the office daily.
In addition to that, a survey shows that over half of remote workers tend to work longer hours than they would in an office setting. About 40% of them feel they are expected to contribute more.
Feeling of Isolation and Loneliness
Remote work is convenient and comfortable, but it can get a little lonely, especially for workers who are used to working with others.
Studies show that loneliness is one of the biggest challenges home workers face. Feeling of isolation can negatively affect one’s emotional health, productivity, and work performance.
Depression and other mental illnesses are caused mainly by loneliness, isolation, and lack of social support. Other factors such as a sedentary lifestyle from sitting all day can further deteriorate mental being.
5 Ways to Boost Mental Health When Working from Home
Here are simple tips to take care of mental well being while working from home.
Identify the ‘stressors.’
Whether it is the poor internet connection, the constant distractions, or the lack of support from employers, it is essential to identify the problems before arriving at the right solution.
Maintain an open line of communication
In these challenging times, maintaining a social relationship with others is essential.
Openly communicating with coworkers despite the lack of physical interaction will not only improve the quality of work. It also helps maintain a positive work relationship with others.
Take in-between breaks to help manage feelings of stress. Set aside time to go for a short walk, run, or bike ride to get a breath of fresh air. Practice self-care from time to time.
Spend time outdoors if possible. Research shows that regular time in green space is great for mental health.
Make a dedicated workspace.
If possible, find a space away from people and potential distractions.
Get everything in one place, including chargers, pens, paper, and anything else. Even in small or shared spaces, try to designate an area dedicated to work.
Seek professional help
High-pressure situations at work can escalate into bigger problems. Stress can cause job burnout and lead to other mental health issues such as anxiety, insomnia, and other conditions.
Recognise warning signs of mental illness and keep in mind that when things become overwhelming, professional help is available.
The unprecedented response to the global pandemic has created new issues in the workplace. Several risks and uncertainties may leave some workers feeling alone, isolated, and overwhelmed.
Creating an emotionally healthy workplace is of utmost priority.
Find more advice on how to take care of mental health and support others while working from home. Enrol in a Mental Health First Aid course to learn more.