In 2019, Buffer.com’s annual report on workplace trends included a study of 2,500 employees worldwide, a cool 99 percent of whom said they would welcome the chance to work from home. Now, it appears working from home is a bit of a “Be careful what you wish for,” scenario.
Last summer, Nuffield Health found 80 percent of British workers considered WFH as having a negative impact on their mental health. As reported by happiful.com, 36 percent of respondents reported feelings of not being to take a break from their computers, contributing to higher anxiety levels, stress and loneliness.
As we've all come to realize better ways to manage in this new environment, it’s a fair bet WFH will continue to play a major role in the global workplace for years to come.
That means mental health issues that have been exposed must be tended to.
“Even if you’re a work-from-home pro, balancing your work life and home life might be more challenging now because your family is also home 24/7," writes Kelli Smith for skillcrush.com. "Or because you’re missing the stimulus of working at the local coffee shop. Maybe you miss the freedom you had working remotely while traveling the world. Or maybe you are struggling to work amid all of the new stressors we are experiencing in different ways.”
Experts says tackling mental health issues among remote workers is a two-pronged approach. Naturally, the process begins with workers taking steps to address the changes that WFH brings and recognizing times they are struggling. The American Psychiatric Association’s Center for Workplace Health offers a long list of ways to counteract the effects of working remotely, including:
- Keep a regular schedule, including breaks, in designated spaces for you and each family member to work and learn.
- Stay connected with family, friends, and support systems.
- Get enough sleep, eat a well-balanced diet, stay hydrated and get some fresh air, regularly.
The second prong of the mental health action plan is to know your available resources and take advantage of them as needed. These resources can be informal, such as the family and friends. Or it can be more formal, such as local mental health professionals or Employee Assistance Program, as featured on Connecting Business. The APA recommends several good online sources as well:
Employers have an important role to play in providing for the mental health and well-being of its remote workforce. Many companies recognize the direct link between a healthy worker and a healthy bottom line.
“Companies can take responsibility for remote employees’ mental and emotional well-being in a few different ways,” reported Tatum Hunter on builtin.com. “One-on-one check-ins, remote rewards programs and explicit communication about mental-health time off and benefits are good ways for employers to support remote workers’ mental health.”