Remote work has been hailed for several high-value benefits to companies and their employees alike. But it’s also important to consider the potential negative implications of working from home, especially when it comes to mental health.
Here’s a quick review of some of the most important psychological factors that companies may need to address in their remote work strategy.
Numerous studies have found that employees who work remotely can accomplish more in less time. Specifically, employees can dive into their work without the typical office distractions, feel more engaged with the company, and work at their own pace. When employees feel like they’re more productive, they can also feel some of the stress and pressure of the office melt away.
On the downside, working alone can lead to intense feelings of disconnect from other people. Working from your living room or kitchen on a daily basis can risk clouding the boundaries between work and family life, making it harder to “turn off” work at the end of the day.
In addition, little to no human interaction throughout the day can lead to feelings of depression and anxiety. In a recent State of Remote Work report, researchers found that nearly 20 percent of remote workers say isolation is their greatest challenge.
Without a morning or afternoon commute, constant interruptions, paying for expensive lunches, and getting little time to recharge at the office, many remote workers say that it’s an excellent solution for stress. Workers can sleep a little longer in the morning and can work in clothes in which they feel comfortable. They don’t feel the constant pressure of someone looking over their shoulder while they work. Plus, they’re not exposed to coworkers who may be sick and can reduce their chances of becoming ill.
Remote work has been hailed for its benefits to focus and concentration, but these benefits have downsides, too. For example, when you’re focused intently on your work, it could be hours before you remember to get up and stretch, go outside for fresh air, or stay hydrated. You’ve got the fridge within arm’s reach and may develop poor snacking habits. If you’re working from home, it’s important to establish healthy habits early on so that you aren’t putting your health at risk.
Arguably the biggest advantage of working remotely is that each employee can customize their work experience, to an extent. For example, workers who need the company of others to thrive or otherwise don’t have a home office space may find it beneficial to work in a co-working space instead of their living room. Workers who feel disconnected or want to build healthy habits may find it beneficial to split their time between home and a co-working space for the best of both worlds.
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