On October 10th, we slowed down in order to celebrate World Mental Health Day. This year, COVID-19 has given this day a special meaning, leading us to contemplate the importance of mental health in times of lockdown, isolation, and many things as we know being utterly upside-down. As part of a new normal, the world is steadily increasing adoption of remote work, with many tech giants already giving their employees an option to work remotely indefinitely. What is the relationship between remote work and mental health?
According to a survey conducted by FlexJobs among 800 US employees, 48% of remote workers report their work-life balance as very good or excellent, compared to only 36% of employees without flexible work possibilities choosing that option. Two-third of remote workers surveyed declared that they prefer to not come back to the office - even after pandemic. They are also almost half as likely to struggle with poor mental health, compared to employees without flexible work options. In what ways remote-based approach can benefit our mental health?
Average commute time in the US is 27 minutes each way (yikes), with similar numbers in majority of developed countries. Whether that’s congested highways or overcrowded metro, commuting often constitutes our least favourite time of the day and causes stress. Remote work allows to minimise or even completely get rid of that problem - put on a comfortable pair of slippers and spend the additional 27 minutes of your day on a healthy and mindful morning routine.
On the seafront? In an alpine hub? Or in your living room? Working remotely allows you to personalise your work environment, giving you more flexibility. While offices are designed to suit the needs of majority, not everyone is able to focus with frequent interruptions, loud conversations and seemingly endless train of birthday cakes. You know best (and if you don’t - this is the best time to try and find out) where and on what conditions you are at your most productive. Having that freedom improves our confidence and makes us more relaxed, both being crucial to a sustainable work routine.
Working remotely means that more of our energy and time can be directed at our wellbeing routine. It gives us the possibility of eating healthier home-made lunches and squeezing in more time for exercise and meditation. Working in the place where we live also gives us a chance to improve our sleep schedule, which is known to have an immense impact on our mental and physical health.
According to a study by PGi, 82% of surveyed remote workers related the possibility of more flexible work arrangements with lower stress levels. This comes from the fact that having control over the way we work increases job satisfaction and slows down the burnout. Working from home gives us a possibility to spend more time with our family and friends (and pets), which helps us to approach new tasks more regenerated and with increased motivation.
Working from the office, it’s often difficult to juggle family tasks with job-related workload. Going remote means more control over our day and gives us a chance to prioritise and schedule each day differently. No more conflicts between personal appointments and office life, which makes us more calm, organised and facilitates forward planning.
While re-designing our work environment works great in terms of increasing productivity and gives us more time to focus on our mental health, it’s important to keep in mind the flip side - potential feelings of isolation and loneliness. It’s crucial to find an efficient and easy way to communicate with your co-workers from a remote office, and remember to set boundaries between work life and home, as they often may seem blurry. In any case, with this huge revolution in the way we work, it’s essential to normalise mental health talk in our workplaces and practice self-care especially when working remotely. Sharing tips on how to take care of ourselves physically and mentally will not only increase engagement, but also helps to create more inclusive and supportive organisations.
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