Working from Home Might Be Bad for Your Mental Health
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Working from home could contribute to feelings of isolation and disconnection. Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

The availability of new technology has made it possible for a lot of people to work from home. More and more people have chosen to work remotely either as a part-time or a full-time job.

An estimated 70% of people work from home at least once a week, and 53% work from home for at least half of the week, according to the study released by IWG a Swiss office provider.

While the idea of sending emails from your kitchen table while in your pajamas sounds appealing, it might not be the perfect setup. There are significant benefits and also many pitfalls to opting not to go to the office, particularly your mental health.

According to one study, about 70% of millennials are more likely to choose an employer that offers a remote working schedule. They are most likely to look at the benefit of working in a flexible time that allows them to attend to other things such as childcare. People also are eager to escape long commutes and avoiding office distractions.

The Cost of Working from Home

For some people working from home, they are most likely to feel isolation and disconnection. People tend to miss out on the opportunities of regular social interaction and building connections with co-workers if a person does not go to an office.

Working from home can also make it difficult to set boundaries between work and home duties. Doing some household chores would be nice but the lines between work and home duties can become so vague and turning the "work mode" off could be harder to the point that it affects your family time and sleep schedule.

In a virtual working environment, there is a tendency to focus more on the tasks and so little on relationships. An increase in the emphasis of deadlines and routine information can make virtual workers feel that they are not essential to the team.

This transactional type of leadership fails to recognize how important the people completing the tasks that can worsen the sense of isolation which naturally comes from working remotely and can cause stress to virtual employees.

Eustress and Distress

Stress can come into two forms- eustress and distress. Robert Yerkes and John Dodson point out that good stress or also known as eustress can be productive up to a point. However, that isn't the case with the bad stress or the distress which results in decreased productivity. 

People who work from home tend to feel guilty about their work arrangement, according to Jane Scudder, a certified personal development and career transition coach.

This guilt coupled with the need to prove oneself gives the employee stress and being not able to tell someone is detrimental as pressure will eventually outweigh an individual's ability to cope over time.

In a separate study, it found out that those who spend at least 15 minutes socializing and sharing feelings of stress to coworkers had a 20% increase in performance. This means that the right kind of communication can overcome the trials of a virtual employee.

Leaders must schedule video-calls and regular team-building meetups to build rapport and they should also lead by example to create an environment where those outside the office are also valued.

This goes both ways. People should think about what makes them productive, successful and happy in life and try to do it also in a remote setting such as taking a walk, signing up for a membership in the gym club, calling a friend or getting lost in your favorite book.

We may not hold the future, but if it is heading towards more virtual working, then we must implement ways of managing the stress that comes with it while also enjoying its advantages.