The Downfalls of Working from Home
Remote working is changing how we live and work, with the COVID-19 pandemic
forcing millions of people to adjust to working from home. Many people have and are still thriving in this new normal but with anything, there are both pros and cons to consider. Here are 5 critical negatives of working from home and what they mean for you and your team.
It is estimated that even post-pandemic, 70% of the workforce will be working remotely
at least five days a month by 2025. But the prolonged impact of remote working due to pandemic-related restrictions has proven to have some downfalls, especially for our mental wellbeing.
- Negative Impact on Mental Health
One of the major concerns of remote working is its negative impact on employee mental health. Globally, people are experiencing higher levels of anxiety and depression at work, which can be considered a mental health emergency in itself. Qualtrics report found that the prolonged impact of remote working due to COVID has had an increasingly negative effect on our mental health, with 41.6% of respondents reporting mental health decline since the COVID-19 outbreak. This is due to various reasons, including increased isolation, stress, and the reasons listed below.
- Disproportionate Work-Life Balance
A contributing factor to the rise in mental health concerns is the struggle to find a healthy work-life balance. With the boundaries between home and work becoming blurred, professionals feel the pressure to be "always on". This increased pressure has made it harder to differentiate our personal selves from our work selves to a point where we struggle to distinguish between them. This leads to remote work burnout.
- Remote Work Burnout
With the pressure to be “always on,” many employees work overtime to meet deadlines, keep up with expectations, and meet their work standards, despite home responsibilities naturally creating hurdles that impact our concentration, productivity, and motivation.
The answer to the remote work fatigue issue is taking breaks. Taking breaks seems counterintuitive, but it is proven to significantly boost mental wellness, decrease the risk of burnout, and increase productivity. Getting fresh air, stretching your body, or making a cup of coffee are all simple yet effective ways to detach from your workload and come back to be your most productive self.
- Lack of Private Space
The reality is, we don’t all have quiet offices at home to step away into and put our heads down for the day. And this is true globally. One of the most significant downsides to working from home full-time is the lack of private space. According to a 2020 study by IPSOS Mori, two thirds of renters don’t have a private workspace at home. This means two-thirds of employees can’t simply close the door on their home distractions.
This has led to many people retreating to the bedroom to find a quiet and private space to work. But this is less than ideal for both our physical and mental health. When we work and sleep in the same area, we confuse our brains. Working from your bedroom can cause your productivity to suffer, affect your sleep, and increase feelings of irritation and disconnection, making it difficult to concentrate during work.
- Harder to Maintain Company Culture
Maintaining company culture is a critical element to create a healthy working culture with strong employee morale. Social interaction is strongly linked to workplace engagement and satisfaction, but remote working doesn't allow for that meaningful interaction the same way working in the office does. This can cause communication issues, lack of trust, and more disconnection. But there are ways to make remote work, work.
- Consistent, scheduled check-ins that provide updates on projects, priorities, and expectations ensure that everybody feels in the loop and has a sense of direction.
- Making time for face-to-face or voice-to-voice communication helps build trust and clarify details as needed. Plus, it adds a face to a name you would otherwise only see on a screen. And sometimes, it’s just nice to see your colleagues’ smiles.
- Setting clear expectations for every employee helps them understand their responsibilities and deadlines while avoiding the anxiety of wondering where they stand with their team and manager.
- Make it personal by scheduling team-building activities outside of the office where employees are encouraged to share more about themselves and connect with their colleagues personally, not just a professional level. Small talk is proven to help create personal connections, build empathy, and strengthen working relationships.
Although many people are thriving in the new normal of remote working, it has also had negative effects on our mental health, wellbeing, and overall company culture. That’s why it’s important to implement ways to keep ourselves and our employees healthy, balanced, and motivated, even post pandemic.