In an effort to adapt and keep businesses moving, thousands of in-person jobs have been moved to remote positions to encourage social distancing without missing a workday. Individuals across the country and around the world have had been subject to extensive changes in their daily lives, and have been forced to adapt to this new norm of working from home and communicating with others via online platforms. While we are able to keep businesses operational and jobs alive, this new type of workday may have diminishing returns on the mental health of the individual employees. 

In theory, working from home sounds like a dream. Being able to roll out of bed 5 minutes before your shift and work all day curled up on your couch in your pajamas is something most of us have fantasized about while on the job. Avoiding the morning commute, saving money on gas and lunches, and getting an extra hour of sleep all sound great, but is it really?

In the midst of the hysteria surrounding the pandemic and the immediate call for action, we may have overlooked some important variables surrounding our decisions. Of course, it is true that social distancing is integral in flatting the curve, but is social distancing healthy? Most would say otherwise.

The Risks of Working From Home

Humans are social beings that rely on the interpersonal connections between us to stimulate our mental health. A sense of community and belonging amongst our peers, as well as the interactions we have with them, are all driving forces in keeping our minds healthy. Being socially connected to others eases stress and anxiety, helps us to avoid depression, and also boosts our own self-worth. Therefore, while social distancing may be necessary, social isolation certainly is not. 

Working from home may stimulate a more quiet and relaxing work environment, but it also serves as a catalyst for the onset of one of the most common causes of mental health issues, loneliness. A true perpetrator, loneliness can have detrimental effects on our mind and body that have the potential to take time off of our lives. It has been reported that people who are lonely and isolated are more likely to suffer from heart disease or stroke, compromised immune systems, and depression that may lead to an early death. 

The Healthiest Ways To Work From Home

So it seems working from home comes with some risks. As an employer, a workforce that is suffering from mental health issues as a result of the current work environment is both inefficient and unproductive. As an employee, your mental health takes precedent over the circumstances of today’s problems and should be addressed as such. 

Seeing as this new way of doing things may be our reality for the foreseeable future, the least we can do is make it tolerable. There are plenty of ways to make working from home an enjoyable experience that will help to keep your mind feeling normal. The government of Canada has issued some helpful tips to working from home that will keep your mind on the body feeling healthy and happy. 

Set a schedule: Behave as though you’re really going to work! Get up, get showered and dressed for the day, and “commute” to a designated working area in your house to help keep you work separate from your home life. Work within regular working hours and try not to work past the typical end of your day.

Stay connected: Take advantage of all of the fantastic video chat software to “meet” with colleagues throughout the day. Set virtual coffee breaks or establish a line of communication with a “work buddy” to avoid feeling isolated or disconnected from the rest of the team. 

Make time for self-care: Making time for self-care such as getting enough sleep, eating healthily and regularly, and getting an appropriate amount of exercise are all great ways to keep our minds and bodies in shape. 

If you or someone you know is working from home and is experiencing some challenges, take advantage of these tips to keep spirits high. While these are restless times, it is important to keep an eye on ourselves and our own well being. Listen to your mind and body and what it needs, and do what you can to establish a sense of normalcy in these new and abnormal conditions.