As working from home continues to rise, will mental health problems rise also?
With the pandemic, can many changes, to both our personal and professionals lives. The lines between home and work blurred beyond recognition for many of us and this has continued to be the new norm with working from home now normal for many across the globe. In February 2022, the ONS said that 42% of the UK spent most of their working week at home. This led to a reduction in office space and the prospect of working from home long term has become a reality, a reality that many people are not so happy about.
Working from home was an incredible short-term solution when COVID happened, and was marketed to employees as flexible and positive. However, nearly 3 years on, many people feel isolated, worn out and are balancing a larger workload and working longer hours with caring for children or relatives. Or, some are facing the reality of going days without having any interaction with people – a tough pill to swallow for those who thrived in an office previously.
We have all read the statistics that people are more effective working from home, but this may be only for a the short term. Many people now suffer staying motivated and not getting distracted. With a lack of motivation to complete key pieces of work, a sense of low self-worth may creep in. Without the hustle and bustle of an office, of colleagues and client meetings, many people may struggle to create an environment at home where they have the same energy. Managers must have key strategies in place to keep their employees happy, and therefore energised and motivated if there is no or little opportunity to meet people in person at the office any more.
A detachment between home and work life has always been present, and has been drummed into us from a young age that you go to work and then come home to relax. Having this strong notion changed was at first exciting for many, and now a drain on their mental abilities.
Managers, if they cannot provide a permanent workspace, should encourage their employees to change up their working environment, perhaps by offering a shared workspace subscription, or monthly in-person meetings and socials. Even micro-social interactions have a huge impact on mood and energy. Employees who live close by could be encouraged to meet for coffee, for lunch or to work together on new projects.
The cost of not creating ways in which to motivate your remote team can be extremely high. Many people are now looking for hybrid roles rather than remote ones to get back a sense of the work / personal boundaries that have been lost. To retain your talent, reduce high recruitments costs and to preserve the mental health of your employees it is imperative that you read between the lines, notice when people are quieter than normal or not performing as you know they can and take supportive action.