Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, an increasing number of people have been working from their homes. It’s been a big change for workers to acclimatise to – and, just as with working in the office, there are both pros and cons to working from home for mental health. Let’s take a look at some of the ways that working from home can affect your mental health, for better or for worse.
How Working From Home Is Beneficial
Working from home can have significant advantages. Firstly, and most obviously, you no longer need to brave the dreaded daily commute. Numerous studies have shown that commuting can pose a significant threat to mental wellbeing. Another benefit is that you will not have to deal with potentially toxic colleagues or distracting office gossip when working from home. Home-based work can allow you to spend more time with family, especially your children – which can promote a better work/life balance. Parents will be able to pick their children up from school, and those with caring responsibilities for family members will also be better served by the flexibility of home working.
The Downsides To Working From Home
Of course, working from home is not all positive. For people who live alone (and even those with families) home working can be extremely isolating, which can consequently lead to depression and anxiety. What’s more, it can inhibit workers’ motivation to leave the house every day, which also leads to a more solitary existence. Without the social aspect of working in an office, mental health can suffer.
Working from home can also lead to blurred boundaries between home and work life, to the detriment of both. It’s all-too-easy to carry on answering emails in the evening, or checking your laptop when you should be relaxing. One study has even found that 82% of remote workers have reported some level of burnout.
Tips To Improve Mental Health
With all this in mind, it’s important for home workers to safeguard their mental health. Take time for yourself every day to practise techniques such as mindful breathing. Schedule at least one day a week when you can leave the house, meet a friend or family member, and engage in something that you enjoy. One of the most beneficial ways of boosting mental wellbeing is to be compassionate to yourself. Remember that you are only human, so do not be too hard on yourself if you have a bad day.
In the end, the question of whether working from home or working in the office is better for mental health will come down to the individual. There will likely be a spectrum of preference; with many appreciating the lack of a commute and greater work-life balance, while others will feel the lack of social interaction more keenly. As with many things, the answer is probably neither black nor white – with hybrid working likely to be a good fit for many people. If workers are able to work flexibly whenever they like, combining both home and office work if they choose to do so, it’s likely that they will be able to find the right balance for their mental health.
Author bio: Ezra, Media Consultant
Photo Credit: Pixabay