The Impact of Home Working on Mental Health

Remote jobs have existed for quite some time. The COVID-19 pandemic, on the other hand, has brought the issue to the forefront. Most people found themselves working from home for extended periods. Some companies later included work-from-home as part of their policy. Therefore, a good number of their workers work from home on a permanent basis. Besides, a growing number of freelancers around the world are now working full-time from home or a home office.

This looks like the perfect job, as you will not need to worry about traffic jams or official attire for much of the time and work in a relaxing environment that you like. However, it has its downsides, which include negative effects on mental health. Here is a list of  some of the effects that you should be aware of:

The Need to Work Harder Leads to Stress

Many companies offer the opportunity to work from home or remotely as a favour or benefit to employees. Therefore, they expect them to reciprocate by working harder now that they have less supervision. This often leads to them working even harder. Some companies even set targets so high that the employees have to look for extra time to complete their assignments.

Unfortunately, the need to work harder often leads to stress as workers tend to put in more hours and rely on caffeinated drinks to keep going as they now have them in plenty at home. At the end of the day, they get too fatigued and their energy levels for the next day are low. Over time, they are unable to meet targets, often leading to stress.

Alone Time Causes Stress and Anxiety

One advantage of the workplace is that workers are able to interact with each other, share stories and get warmth from associating with others. This has therapeutic effect on the body and mind and may make those stressed to temporarily forget their woes. Unfortunately, those who work there do not have access to this.

Many remote workers spend extended periods alone. If the work they do does not involve interaction or phone calls with other workers, they are more likely to spend the entire day without talking to anyone. Over time, the extended ‘alone time’ breeds loneliness and causes anxiety, causing the mind to wander into issues that the worker may be facing either at home or at work.

It is important that people who work from home find ways to meet and interact with friends and family or spend moments outdoors to refresh their minds and avoid the buildup of anxiety and stress. It only takes a stroll, a walk to the local grocery store or eatery—to feel relaxed.

High Workload Causes Poor Work/Life Balance

Unlike the workplace, there are no clearly defined timelines for starting and stopping work. Unlike the myth that most of them have the freedom to decide when to start and stop working, many of them wake up early and finish work late. They tend to put in hours that are meant for other activities, like spending time with loved ones or having fun.

Over time, this may affect their relationships, ability to interact with others and fun. Poor work/life balance also causes increased stress, depression and mental fatigue, all of which have catastrophic results.

There is a High Chance for a Burnout

Burnout is a feeling of energy depletion or extreme exhaustion, feelings of negativity, cynicism and increased mental distance from the job you are doing. This is often a result of chronic stress and work overload. Most people who suffer from burnout feel defeated, helpless, trapped and disconnected from the outside world.

Loneliness, often experienced by remote workers, enhances these feelings as they spend lots of time thinking over these emotions. Online workers often get burned out when transitioning from office-based work to remote work. Others experience it when they get overloaded with work.

One way to deal with it is by taking short breaks and walking outdoors. It is also important to set realistic targets and break them down into small ones that can be achieved in a specific period. Many businessmen advise that online workers should take a prolonged break where they can meet friends, enjoy their hobbies or learn a new skill after lengthy work periods.

Poor mental health can have an impact on both the freelancer’s productivity and quality of life. It is important that they take steps to mitigate these effects as soon as they suspect them. A physician or psychiatrist can help if the problems have progressed too far.

Written by Stephen Taylor, Propaganda CEO

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