Is Working from the Office Better for your Mental Health?

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The coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated underlying mental health problems for many in what has been an unprecedented mental health crisis. Part of this is due to the extended time spent working from home. 

 

The Office as an Important Social Hub

 

There is a wealth of literature to support how many employees have experienced loneliness since the start of lockdown. According to TotalJobs, 46% of UK workers have experienced loneliness in lockdown. An overwhelming 94% of workers reported how isolation has detrimentally impacted their mental health. Loneliness was most prevalent for the younger demographic, with nearly 75% of those aged 18-38 reporting high rates of lockdown loneliness. With offices in London shut, many are keenly missing the “water-cooling chat” with 52% of workers attributing the workplace to the majority of their daily social interactions. When working from home, 67% report that lockdown has reduced the variety of their social interactions.

 

Communication Issues

 

49% of respondents reported completely losing contact with colleagues who they would normally interact with regularly. Aside from losing important social contact with colleagues, remote working gives rise to many complex communication issues. We all know the subtle ways in which an email may be misinterpreted and the damage it can cause. This, in turn, can lead to frustration, misinformation and in the long-term, breakdown of work relations. Additionally, there have been many studies to show how many important social cues are missed when communicating solely via video calls, not just at a technological level but also at a level of social perception.

 

Difficulty Obtaining a Healthy-Work Life Balance

 

Many have reported working more hours when working from home due to there not being an “off-switch”. When the lines between work and home are so blurred, it is difficult to establish boundaries. This means that many are working longer and, not necessarily more productive, hours. 

 

Lack of Schedules 

 

Since the beginning of lockdown, workers have struggled to regulate their days including not taking regular breaks, not stopping for lunch, and not using their holiday days. 30% of workers reported a negative impact on their eating habits and nearly half said that remote working had negatively impacted their sleeping habits. Without a healthy work-life balance, things like burnout are far more common.

 

Self-esteem

 

33% of workers who were surveyed reported that remote working had negatively impacted their self-esteem. There is something to be said about getting dressed and ready for work each day. When remote working from home, there is far less incentive to make yourself presentable, with ‘athleisure’ and tracksuit sales rocketing as people took to their comfies to work. Even if your office adopts a casualwear policy, the process of getting ready each day and making yourself presentable is invaluable for your self-esteem.

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