In the past, working from home was a rare occurrence. Company leaders couldn’t envision how they’d incite productivity, engagement, and growth if their employees weren’t right there in front of them. But they’ve since learned otherwise.
If you were able to work during the COVID-19 pandemic, chances are you engaged in remote work. Employees and leaders alike understood that life needed to move forward, even if we couldn’t interact physically.
Successfully adapting to remote work and appreciating its flexibility saved a lot of businesses. It also held up the livelihoods of many workers. As we rebuild from the effects of this pandemic, working remotely may be a permanent fixture in the future of work.
We’re familiar with how this looks for us externally. But how does this long-term work from home culture impact us internally?
Consider how the following mental health implications brought on by long-term remote work can affect your personal life.
According to Help Guide, “Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands.”
If we’re honest, remote work is demanding.
When you burn out, it affects your mental and physical state. Physically, you’re tired but unable to sleep. Mentally, you’re incredibly frustrated and stressed out. When you go to work, despite all of that, you’ve got the recipe for an unproductive day.
When you’re burnt out and unable to sleep, it can increase your risk of health issues like obesity, exacerbate your anxiety and depression, and bring on other sleep disorders.
You need a consistent sleep and wake schedule, among other things, to fend off burnout. But many remote workers just aren’t adept at organizing their days efficiently nor comfortable clocking out.
If you’re consistently burning out because you’re unable to unplug, your work performance is likely to suffer, and your personal life could be nonexistent.
Working remotely can be incredibly lonely at times, even if your family is home with you. You miss interacting with our colleagues in the office. You feel guilty about locking the office door, so you’re kids can’t interrupt your designated work hours. You’re becoming less and less present in your marriage. Or maybe you’re feeling nobody understands what you’re going through and therefore keep it all inside.
All of those terrible feelings that can arise in remote work would make anyone want to hide until they subside. But isolation can be debilitating. Mainly because there’s a significant relationship between isolation influencing other mental health issues to become more apparent.
For example, say you’ve already been struggling with body image issues. Your remote work schedule requires you to partake in video meetings via Zoom constantly. This means turning on your camera and nit-picking your appearance even more than you already do.
Your body image issues are now turning into Zoom Dysmorphia because of your online interactions and consistently seeing your face on the screen.
When we isolate in remote work, it’s harmful to the mental health challenges we’re already navigating. The mental exhaustion stops us from socializing, practicing self-care and self-appreciation, seeking support systems, and so forth.
Remote work is physically, mentally, and emotionally taxing. High-quality work and enthusiasm for the job go out the window when we don’t have the support we got in the office at home. Personal endeavors take a backseat to professional commitments that overwork and undervalue us.
When work messes with the balance we’ve created in our lives, it disrupts us mentally as well. We lose the capacity to make informed decisions and focus on the tasks at hand. We lose interest in friendships because we just don’t have the energy to maintain them.
A huge part of being healthy mentally is having the ability to balance your personal and professional passions. Without a proper work-life balance, both professional and personal relationships suffer.
But you can’t create balance in your life if you’re mentally exhausted from working remotely. It’s challenging to motivate yourself, create your schedule, and gauge your productivity if you weren’t doing it before.
Long-term remote work that doesn’t promote balance can adversely affect your mental stability. This is because balance is essential to strong mental health.
How Long Term Remote Work Affects the Culture — and Tips to Remedy This
If we’re all running around this world, burnt out, accustomed to isolation, and lacking balance, our world won’t survive.
We’ll create a culture of people who don’t know how to take care of themselves. We’ll never listen to our bodies, prioritize our minds, and or be able to work through our emotions. Workplaces will suffer because employees won’t be able to function. And we’ll hardly ever achieve much collectively or as individuals.
Long-term remote work could also have a positive influence on our overall culture. It could make flexible schedules accessible to all workers. Remote work could promote a more outstanding work-life balance if done right. It can give people an opportunity to spend more time with family and prioritize their passions.
Making remote work permanent in our workforces could create a culture of people that enjoy their lives outside of work just as much as they want their careers.
To remedy any adverse effects induced by remote work, we must start with self-discipline, self-care, and love. This could mean getting familiar with your body’s circadian rhythm to ensure you get good sleep and wake up with energy when it’s time.
You could create a schedule to map out your days while working from home. You could ensure your physical wellness is cared for with a consistent exercise regimen or adequate time outdoors.
Whatever you do to address the mental health implications of permanent remote work, do it with conviction.