Is WFH Really That Good?
Reports show that over 41% of workers experienced a mental health decline whilst working from home (WFH) during the Covid lockdowns. Merging our place of work and rest can seem like an ideal solution for some, but there are many reasons why it is essential to keep them separate. The lure of working in your pyjamas can seem compelling, but have you considered what some of the negative impacts of working from home can be?
Take a look at our article on why working from home may not be all it is cracked up to be.
One of the most significant issues with working from home that is rarely mentioned is that of isolation. A big advantage of working in an office is the companionship you gain from working with colleagues. You can speak to your colleagues online, but it does not replace real human contact.
Many people have reported missing out on the little conversations that go on in the office during the day. The water cooler moments and the quick catch-ups when having a cup of tea. Social events after work are not really something you can participate in when you have one of the work from home jobs.
If you live and work alone, this problem can be compounded and sometimes lead to mental health issues when people do not get as much socialisation as they need. If you work at home, you need to take the time to go out and socialise with friends and family after work, and it is vital for your ongoing mental health.
* How to use the STAR method to nail your job interview
* What are your strengths and weaknesses? Answering the question for job interviews
* I quit! How to write the perfect resignation letter
* 45 questions to ask in a job interview
Offices can sometimes be loud and noisy places, but they are often designed to minimise these distractions. People also recognise that they are a place of work and will leave you to get on with your tasks, which may not be the case elsewhere.
Working at home with kids is a huge challenge, as many have discovered during the lockdowns during the pandemic. Kids find it hard to understand that mummy or daddy are not able to talk or cuddle whenever needed. They will not respect privacy barriers, like a closed door, the same way your colleagues might.
It doesn't seem fair to either party and if you do not have a partner to help keep the kids occupied, you may find yourself constantly torn between the role of parent and employee throughout the day. This constant shifting of focus is not good for you mentally or for the quality of the work you can produce.
If you have kids at home, you may find that working at home is simply not an option for you.
Lack Of Resources
One of the benefits of working in an office is that you can usually find whatever you need to get the job done nearby. Working from home may prove challenging in this respect. The PC you have at home could be much older, under specced, or slower than those available at work.
Software for your computer is often a problem as it is unlikely you will have everything you need to be installed at home. If you can access your work PC via a virtual private network or VPN, this can help with this issue.
But that also requires you to have a strong internet connection at home, and you may find that using your software via a VPN is much slower and more frustrating than direct access.
Never Really Stopping Work
The trouble with work from home jobs, especially entry-level work from home jobs, is that you may sometimes feel you can never stop work. Previously, employees always found it difficult to not take their work home with them. Either in the form of incomplete projects from the office or simply having the work mobile on and having colleagues calling you at all hours.
When your office is in your home, this mental boundary is completely dissolved, and you may find it difficult to reconcile when it is time to work and when it is time to rest. Being at home ceases to be a reason as to why colleagues may not contact you, and you have to become firm at setting boundaries.
These boundaries need to be defined not only with those you work with but also with yourself. You need to know when it is time to stop.
The flip side of never stopping is never really getting started. Motivation in the office often came from a sense of being observed and judged by others. As harmful as this is, it was a motivator for getting people on task.
When you are at home, there are so many more attractive propositions to end your motivation and take you off task. It requires much more mental fortitude to keep yourself on task when you are your own taskmaster.
The working from home trend asks much more from you mentally than you may realise at first. You need to develop strategies to keep yourself focused and motivated to complete your work tasks throughout the day.
Another mental strain of working from home that many do not realise exists is the idea that you are being judged unknowingly. We mentioned that at work, you are observed, and sometimes it feels like just your presence in the office is enough to justify your role. This is a poor attitude for any workplace, but many people report experiencing this kind of environment.
When people cannot be in the office, it can create a false sense of anxiety that they are being judged for not doing their jobs. This can escalate to a level of paranoia that their value in the workforce is somehow diminished.
It is not a healthy state of mind, and it requires a sensible and caring manager to help an individual who feels this way to relax into a new way of working. If not, it will ultimately lead to unhealthy behaviours like overworking and mental health issues.
Is Working From Home (WFH) Good For You?
With so many of us now working from home (WFH) due to the current pandemic crisis, more studies are being conducted into whether this is the best way forward. Some studies show that working from home may not have the best effects on our overall mental health; however, more investigation is needed to understand the impact fully.
In the meantime, we need to make sure that if we are working from home that we take steps to counter any negative mental health issues that might be developing: Remain socially active, create a workspace, and make sure that you regularly check in with your superiors.