For many people the interaction they have with colleagues may be their only interaction. In that case working from home may contribute to feelings of loneliness, isolation and even depression.
Post pandemic studies have considered the effect on mental health of working from home. It has been found that spending long periods working from home affected many aspects of our lives with well-being, stress, depression, fatigue, quality of life, strain, and happiness mostly diminished.
Unsurprisingly the impact on people’s health was strongly influenced by the level of support available to them from employers and colleagues, family and friends
Personally, I think it is difficult to separate the effect of the pandemic from the effect of WFH in a survey taken at this time,
Danger of being overlooked for promotion
The danger of being overlooked for promotions and career development opportunities is quite real when you are away from the office and other more visible employees are actively competing for them. An open line of communication with management and regular visits to the office are critical in order to prove your dedication and commitment to your career and to prevent the out-of-sight-out-of-mind syndrome.
Although office distractions are avoided, different distractions may clutter your day. Interruptions from children, or elderly family, nuisance calls, door to door salesmen, the office, neighbours, friends, family can all be very disruptive. You are the first person who comes to mind when an emergency arises and someone needs to collect something, run somebody to a hospital appointment ….You must make it known that you are actually working and not available for interruption within work hours despite your physical presence at home.
Need for self-discipline
When your day has no structure it requires a lot of self-motivation, self-control and discipline to motivate yourself over the long run without succumbing to distractions and losing drive and momentum.
Difficulty in separating home from work
There is a temptation is to engage in household chores while you are at home. You may feel obliged to clean, do the shopping, the washing, the childcare, the cooking, the home finances. You need to be disciplined enough to draw the line between home and work.
Work has no boundary
The lack of physical separation between home and work may tempt you to work outside normal hours. You feel there are greater expectations of you as a home-worker, or you may self-impose pressures to prove yourself and your abilities in this arrangement.
Alienated from company developments
A lot can change from day to day in a company and you may find yourself removed from important developments such as staff changes, new business developments, changes in company direction, new competitive information.
Some people struggle with isolation and loneliness and miss interaction and teamwork, and this can be depressing. You need to be more creative and resourceful in getting to know people and in staying in touch with your colleagues. When you do go into the office, schedule a lunch break with colleagues in advance; or arrange a social meeting after work that day. With today’s collaborative tools most of this can be overcome.
So in summary
For many people WFH, is an unnatural way of working, and they miss the social interaction and teamwork of the office. It is easy to feel isolated and distracted from your objectives.
You need to consciously develop a structured routine and manage your time to ensure you achieve your objectives. With good planning and organization, working from home can be more productive and fulfilling than office life.
You should adapt to your situation and try to separate work life from home life in the way that suits you best.
An arrangement where you report into the office once or twice a week might be a good compromise. It allows for close interaction with colleagues and supervisors and ensures you remain in touch with company developments while still permitting you the comfort and convenience of working from home.
And if you have the right mindset, it can be very productive to break up intense periods of professional work with domestic tasks such as switching on the washing machine, or emptying it later. The mind often solves a work problem while the hands are busy!!
The key is to set yourself targets and make sure you achieve or surpass them on a regular basis.