Mental Health and working remotely – How do they fare and what we can do about it

With the start of Corona and everything everywhere shutdown and the whole world came to a stop, companies quickly switched to a remote working model as part of their BCP (business continuity plan) Plan to continue their service running

Few days before the shutdown many companies quickly executed this plan and their IT department worked non stop to have enough laptops/ PCs working correctly for their employees to use at home instead of coming to the office, which is at this point was becoming impossible to due to government restrictions, thus the WFH (work from home) or remote working model was born, well it existed long before but with everything shutting down that was the only option to continue having their business operating and get to keep their employees on the payroll

Imagine this option was not available or ISPs were not ready what would have happened? Many more things would have ceased to exist, simply using the internet to stream your favorite programs or play online. Surely if this would have happened 10 years earlier things would have been far worse in terms of global financial collapse.

Many companies have now opted to continue this model as it proved to be more efficient, work and life balance and employees well being ratings were through the roof, well for most companies who were keen on this anyways. Remote working saves time off your daily commute, hence saving you money from transportation and food as you would most likely eat at home. If you have children you need to take care off this is a far better option than nurseries, will discuss the benefits in another article.

 With all the positives this has, it also comes with some negatives, mainly the impact is on the mental wellbeing. Like any other habit, once it’ changed it can have a negative impact on the person, this of course can be very mild or reaching the unbearable and possibly depression.

Depending on your job type, your day most likely look like this:

  • Wake up early
  • Prepare breakfast
  • Have a cup of coffee
  • Load up your laptop
  • Have lunch
  • Maybe a second cup of coffee
  • Shut down your laptop for the rest of the day
  • Spend the rest of the evening relaxing after a long day full of conference calls
  • Repeat the next day

If you are by nature a person who likes to stay home, stream on Netflix and play games and this does not bother you then you are one of the lucky few.

For someone who has not experienced work from home, this might even sound like the best thing to ever happen, but when you look deeply there are many elements of the day you are missing.

1. Set and stick to a routine

The lines between work and personal time can get blurred and be stressful to get right, so setting a schedule and sticking to it is crucial

Get up at the same time you used to, eat breakfast and get dressed “for the office”. Try scheduling in your “commute time” and spend it exercising, reading or listening to music to jump start your day

Most importantly, when your workday ends, stop working. Stop checking emails and focus on your home life.

2. Make a dedicated workspace

Find a quiet space away from people and distractions like the TV

Get everything you need in one place, before you start work – chargers, pens, paper and anything else. Even in a small or shared space, try to designate an area for work.

Lastly, get comfortable. While it might be tempting to sit on the sofa, it’s much better to sit at a desk or table.

3. Give yourself a break

Making time for breaks is important to help manage feelings of stress.

Try to take lunch and regular screen breaks, and give yourself time to concentrate on something else so you feel more focused when you return. Even just 5 to 10 minutes of short breaks each hour can really help your productivity too.

If possible, spend time outdoors when you can. Regular time in green space is great for your mental health.

Set a time to go for a walk, run or bike ride for some fresh air, or a coffee.

4. Stay connected

While working from home has its benefits, you may also feel more isolated. But there are lots of ways to stay in touch with those who matter – boosting their mental wellbeing as well as our own.

In and out of work, human interaction matters so schedule video calls and pick up the phone instead of emailing. If you’re struggling with working at home, speak to your colleagues or manager about your concerns.

And remember, your colleagues probably feel the same as you. Ask how they’re doing and whether there are ways you can support each other.

5. Set boundaries

Setting boundaries with other members of your household is key to mental wellbeing while working at home.

You can be more flexible when working from home, so enjoy it. But it can also be difficult if there are other distractions to deal with, like children at home, who may think you are on holiday and want to spend time with you.

Have a discussion about your needs, especially with family. Remind them that you still have work to do and need quiet time to do it, and share your schedule.

Similarly, set boundaries with work. It’s easier to stay logged on when your home is your office, but try to switch off when the work day is over, and enjoy time with family at home.

6. Think longer term

You may be continuing to work from home for a while, so think about ways you could improve how you work while at home. If you have a room that’s warmer or has a window that lets in a lot of light, could you work there instead?