While our life experience is about so much more than our work, work is a significant aspect of who we are and how we spend our time. Considering that the average person spends about a third of their lifetime at work, amounting to a whopping 92,000+ hours, work is integral to our overall mental health and wellbeing. Over a year of pandemic living and forced changes on our lives–including our work lives–has created unique challenges. The psychological effects of working from home impacts the overall quality of our lives.
Because of the importance of this topic, I was thrilled when writer and educator Bash Sarmiento approached me with one of his articles. I’m pleased that he was willing to share it to help increase awareness and understanding of this serious issue.
The Psychological Effects of Working from Home
by Bash Sarmiento
The COVID-19 pandemic changed the way we carry on with our lives, including how we work. Many people have been forced to work remotely from home. Despite how ideal and attractive the offer of working from home can be, it has not proven to be the dream that many employees anticipated, taking into account that this is the majority of the working population’s first touch or experience with such work setup. Consider, for example, the Baby Boomers who have had to keep up with technology, troubleshooting with little support. Because of this 360-degree shift, many have experienced psychological effects of working from the “comforts” of home. Adjustment to technology is just the tip of the iceberg. Mental health challenges run deep.
The Martec Group (2020) found a significant decline in mental health across all industries and demographics of workers from home. Job satisfaction and job motivation were also directly and negatively affected. In fact, in the State of Remote Work Report (2020), it was revealed that the most common problem remote workers have is detaching after work hours. This was experienced by 22% of the study’s respondents. Other obstacles virtual office workers encountered were:
- 19% felt loneliness
- 17% frustrated in collaborating or communicating
- 10% distracted at home
- 8% being in a different time zone than colleagues
- 8% staying focused and motivated
- 7% taking vacation time
- and 3% technical concerns
On top of these are other more obvious reasons like undistinguished boundaries that usually happen when workers from home mix house chores with work resulting to longer unmonitored work hours. You might also observe a lack of structure since you are at home and you do not follow a rigid work schedule which can lead to the trouble of how to get your day going, ending it, and when to take snacks or lunch breaks. Another key problem is social isolation which can be a double-edged sword. You can work in solitude, yes, but too much silence can be deafening and lonely. Distractions like receiving deliveries, getting calls and texts that are unrelated to work, and dealing with neighborhood ambient sounds, are also inevitable and completely make you lose your focus.
In the bigger picture, working from home can lead to depression when your psychological and physiological needs are not met. It can happen without you even knowing that you are on the roadway already. With no human connection at home, no new career milestones, and no novelty in your day-to-day job functions, this could be detrimental to your mental health. Other than those mentioned, anxiety, stress, and loneliness within the four walls of your house office can lead to depression or make it worse. These problems can spring more others along the way. Poor mental health, according to studies, can also initiate starting or increasing substance use and even suicidal thoughts. This is why before it even happens, revisit how you conduct and orchestrate your day. Take advantage of work from home’s flexible schedule to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle. For days when you feel down, ask for a leave of absence and do what will make you happy. Look for ways to entertain yourself and find the fun.
Work means everything to any household. It keeps the house and its members afloat and because of our extreme want to pursue success, we sometimes neglect our own well-being. Practicing a work-life balance is critical if we want to improve our physical, emotional, and mental well-being as well as our career in terms of productivity and efficiency.
About the Author:
Bash Sarmiento is a writer and an educator from Manila. He writes laconic pieces in the education, lifestyle, and health realms. His academic background and extensive experience in teaching, textbook evaluation, business management, and traveling are translated into his works.