September 17, 2022
Working from home has been an option since well before COVID, but the practice has been widely popularised since then. As we all found during those endless months of lockdown, working from home can often be a blessing and a curse.
Buffer’s ‘State of Remote Work’ Report found that 97% of remote workers say they are likely to work remotely at least some of the time for the rest of their careers, and 61% say that their experience working remotely was very positive. This data shows what most of us already know: remote working is a great and viable alternative to working in the office. However, working from home is not without its trials. This article aims to outline the pros and cons of working remote, and possible methods you can use to overcome some of these problems.
The main positive about working remote is flexibility; the flexibility to work when you want, from where you want. There is no commute, you can work on flexible schedules, and you have much more control when dealing with work-life balance. These positives can be seen to directly influence how employees feel about working as Buffer reports that 62% of remote workers feel more excited about their job since working remote.
There are also obvious negatives to working from home. Whilst 31% of remote workers record no struggles, 25% struggle with unplugging at the end of the workday, 24% noted an increase in loneliness, and 21% found it more difficult to remain motivated.
The issue of unplugging can be especially hard-hitting as there is less of a divide between home and work life. Kerman et.al (2021) found that unfinished tasks at home negatively affected an employee’s work satisfaction. The blurring of work/home boundaries means that employees can feel like they have a foot on both sides, never fully committed to either. This can lead to dissatisfaction, irritability, procrastination, and mental fatigue (*link to our article on mental fatigue*).
Issues of isolation can also be tough for those working fully remote. Buffer’s report found that 52% of employees say they felt less connected to their co-workers. Articles by Barron and Young outline some great ways that you can tackle isolation such as working outside the house and having regular meetings with co-workers.
Solutions and Tips
Create a designated workspace: It is often hard to get in the mind space of work when you are at home, especially if you are trying to work on the sofa. Setting up a designated workspace will help you associate that spot with work and will stop any mind wandering. This physical workspace will also help any other house members to know that when you are sat there, you are working and shouldn’t be disturbed.
Take regular breaks: Regular breaks help keep your brain fresh and active. Try not to go on screens but rather try walking around. This doesn’t need to be hike but rather a walk around the block or even just getting up and doing the dishes from last night will help you relax.
Be social: Regular social contact with friends and co-workers will help keep at bay any isolation you may be feeling. Talk to co-workers and have regular meetings; try meeting up at a nearby coffee shop or co-working space to talk through issues in person.
Stick to your schedule: Creating a strict schedule and sticking to it will help you unplug and establish a tighter work/home balance. If you say that you will unplug and finish work at 5, then you stick to that. Complete any tasks that need completing and the rest will be waiting for you when you clock in tomorrow morning. The same goes for any housework. The laundry can be done once you finish at 5 and not when you want to procrastinate work.
Clear communication: Sharing your schedule with friends, family, and co-workers will help establish when you can be contacted about certain matters and when you can’t. This will help avoid multi-tasking various home and work tasks and stop mental fatigue from building.
Be kind to yourself: Working from home can be great but there are also inevitable negative feelings associated with it. Don’t beat yourself up if you accidentally didn’t see any friends this week or if you forgot to complete that work task because you needed to help your children with homework. It’s hard to balance remote life but hopefully these tips should help.
These tips we’ve discussed are only a select few ways that you can get the most out of working from home. Remember that working remote can be amazing for its flexibility and control, but that there are negative side-effects that must be tackled to ensure you are at your most happy, both in your home and work life.
If feelings of isolation, depression, and anxiety become worse, it is important to speak to those you trust. Open communication is vital for tackling these issues and improving your mental wellbeing. At Mind Space we have trusted and highly skilled qualified therapists available 24 hours a day. We can help you take the steps to improve your life, no matter what challenges you are facing in complete confidence. Get some MindSpace, call us on 0207 553 5010.