Yes it can, but it doesn’t have to.
If you struggle with work from home and mental health, contact the caring professionals at Dr. Quintal and Associates today at (941) 907-0525.
The Sudden Change In Our Daily Work Environments
Before the pandemic, many office workers thought it would be great to work from home from time to time. This opinion most likely came from a romanticized version of what working from home would be like with longer breaks, daytime naps, and no stressful commuting. When the opportunity to work from home occurred during the pandemic, most office workers were unprepared for the realities.
What We Lost
When workers moved to a work-from-home environment, they lost the one thing they may have never thought about—camaraderie.
Most people like to think they don’t need the social aspect of working with others. However, that small social change impacted even those who didn’t socialize outside of the office. Yet, the office environment provides a feeling of belonging. Right or wrong, it is a way to compare who you are as a person and what you do outside of work with other similar beings.
In addition to decreased socialization, we lost the social cues that helped us identify our accomplishments and where we fit in among the office team. Seeing the expression on a supervisor’s face as they provide feedback is a large part of how we interpret reality and our worth.
What We Gained
While most people assume that not commuting to work would be tremendously positive, it is necessary to separate work from home and mental health. Without it, lines become blurred.
Not commuting also fails to add the hours many assume would be available. In reality, the typical work-from-home employee averages more work hours every week than those who work from the office.
Increased remote working means more structured office meetings. Although not previously necessary in the physical office environment because of the ability to speak directly to anyone, working full-time from home requires more status and follow-up meetings for training.
Meetings detract significantly from the workflow. Not only does the employee have to spend time in a meeting, but pulling them away from work when they might have a rhythm going affects their efficiency. It can often take time to get back into the workflow following a lengthy and potentially dull meeting.
The Impact Of Working From Home
These losses and gains significantly impact employees’ work from home and mental health.
Working full-time from home can lead to a loss of socialization. Regular office interactions provided unscheduled brain breaks and stimulating conversation. Without these, employees are trudging through 8 hours of daily work, feeling isolated.
The lack of a commute results in no clear separation between work and home. Unclear boundaries result in more time spent working and less with family, leading to anger and resentment. Even those with defined boundaries become increasingly stressed because they feel obligated to take phone calls or respond to emails after hours.
Getting dressed for work, fighting traffic, walking into the office, or climbing stairs are critical physical aspects of the workday. It prevents workers from becoming sedentary, increases endorphins from physical movement, and encourages other physical fitness activities.
Working from home eliminates much of the average worker’s daily physical activity. It isn’t nearly as challenging even for those who schedule fitness into the work-from-home schedule. Less physical activity can lead to a decline in physical health, directly impacting mental health.
Each of these aspects increases the likelihood of stress which manifests itself in different ways, including:
- Sadness, depression, and anxiety
- Fatigue, low motivation, and difficulty paying attention
- Increased anger and irritability
- Sleep deprivation
These issues also manifest themselves in physical ailments such as:
- Weight gain
- High blood pressure and heart disease
- Hormone fluctuations, gastrointestinal problems, and skin disorders
Mitigating the Impact
While several things can cause increased mental stress and physical ailments, it is possible to minimize the negative impacts. These include:
- Defining work hours and rules of etiquette regarding after-hours contact
- Scheduling specific times to check emails
- Scheduling frequent mental and physical breaks, including working out
- Scheduling time to interact socially with family, friends, or coworkers
- Creating a separate home office
- Eliminating multitasking
- Defining home responsibilities
Sticking to a daily schedule that includes breaks and socialization can significantly mitigate the rut and negativity of working from home full time.
Dr. Quintal & Associates Can Help
The caring team of Dr. Quintal and Associates understands work from home and mental health. We can help you find a work-life balance that allows you to manage your workload, feel a sense of accomplishment, and keep family first.
Contact Dr. Quintal and Associates today at (941) 907-0525 if you have concerns about working from home and mental health.