What are the Mental Health Benefits of Remote Work?
While the transition period may have been a bit rough, many companies continue to thrive with much of their team working from home during the pandemic. On average, 1 out of 4 employees continues to work from home in 2021.
Some employees find the mental health benefits of remote work are so high that they are choosing to continue to WFH full or part-time as their office reopens. Or as their office reopens, many are seeking out new positions so that they can continue to work remotely.
Most of the benefits below reduce personal and professional stress or are related to financial stressors. Not all will apply to everyone but at least a few will apply to you.
1. Health And Safety
Even with social distancing protocols in place, you are not alone if you find yourself declining to return to the office due to concerns about contracting COVID-19. Your concerns may be related to the high case numbers in your area, your preexisting health conditions, and the concern for those you live with. This isn’t to say that you will continue to work from home indefinitely, just that you aren’t yet comfortable. If the option is still there and it reduces your fear, stress, or anxiety—take advantage of it.
2. Increased Productivity
If you have found a way to manage at-home distractions such as kids, pets, watching TV, or the temptation to stay in bed when your alarm goes off—you are likely more productive at home. This makes you feel a greater sense of accomplishment which works wonders for your mental health.
3. Flexible Scheduling
This varies depending on your company and role, but you may be empowered to work when is most beneficial to you. This might mean getting up super early if you are a morning person or splitting your day into 2 or 3 blocks of time so that you can mix in other activities—such as cooking lunch, exercise, or homeschooling the kids. Maybe even chat with a friend midday. This sense of autonomy contributes greatly to work-life balance, which we discuss more below.
4. Work-Life Balance
If work dominated your days pre-pandemic schedule, you have far more control over your time now. There is certainly a flipside to this, which we discuss in the final section. A few of the balancing benefits of remote work include:
- No time after hours spent entertaining clients
- No commute time or traffic
- Get up at a set time but sleep in a bit later if you want to ease into your day
- You’re already at home so you can spend more time with your family
- It’s easier to schedule wellness, social time, and hobbies when at home
- With no commute, you may find yourself feeling better about your carbon footprint
- Schedule your work more around life instead of putting your personal life last
- You spend less money on food, transportation, and work attire which minimizes financial stress
- You can work from anywhere with internet access, so you are free to travel
5. Improved Communication
Meetings with colleagues and clients have increased 10% while working remotely, but there is often a greater respect for this time. Most meetings are well-organized, and many are short and sweet. In addition, you may have a few new tools to communicate with your team, such as IM or project-specific feeds within your project management software. By fine-tuning or creating new internal systems it decreases confusion, therefore stress and anxiety. Improved communication is another contributing factor to increased productivity.
6. Improved Self-Care
Your access to self-care is far greater at home than it is in most offices. This includes everything from making a lunch that is healthier than eating out to taking time to stand and stretch, playing music that you enjoy while you work, taking breaks when you want, brewing a cup of tea, or doing a mini-meditation when you begin to feel stressed. You can also pop out for some fresh air by walking the dog, taking a solo walk around the block, or doing an at-home workout to break up the day.
7. Less Stress When Getting Dressed
The stress of getting dressed each day was underestimated until the pressure of hair, makeup, accessorizing, and stylizing was minimized during the pandemic. While we must remain professional and presentable on Zoom, most of us can stick to business casual attire. With no commute time, you may even find yourself taking a bit more time getting ready. Or taking a “waist-up” approach, wearing athleisurewear from the waist-down to be comfy, with polished pieces from the waist-up. Just be mindful of what it will look like if you have to stand during a video meeting. AKA—no PJs.
8. Improved Access To Quality Work
Companies understand that they can thrive with a remote team, so many are open to hiring out of area or out of state employees. This means that you can job search beyond your local area, improving access to quality employment. This may lead to a more lucrative salary, a company culture that is a better fit, a position with more growth potential, a promotion, or accessing a company you can’t in your current location. Since we spend most of our waking hours at work, this can have substantial mental health benefits.
The Downsides Of Working From Home
Even if you feel some of the benefits above, you may be struggling with a few of the downsides to working remotely. Here are the top downsides and a few solutions:
Working remotely combined with sheltering at home may leave you feeling alone on an island. This is one of the reasons why you should schedule more Zoom calls, both personal and professional. Even with email, text, and social media, you won’t feel as connected and engaged as you do when on the phone or chatting via video. Schedule at least 2 or 3 virtual interactions per day with people other than those you live with. Get creative and schedule in virtual lunch, coffee, or dinner with friends, family, or colleagues. Also, explore virtual activities such as art classes, cooking classes, dance parties, book clubs, networking, hobby groups, and more.
You are not alone if your productivity has decreased. Ensure your workspace is comfortable, ergonomic, organized, and conducive to work. Also, set a daily schedule to hold yourself accountable. The schedule doesn’t have to be the same each day, but it should be set. Tackle your most challenging item first to get it out of the way and minimize procrastination and mental strain. Finally, if the kids are home, weigh the benefits of at-home childcare. Maybe even send the kids to visit grandma and grandpa. If you are a two-parent household create shifts with your partner.
Since home is work and work is home, you may find yourself staying connected to clients and colleagues all day long. Setting a distinct daily (set or alternating) start and end time each day is a must. This should include utilizing apps that lock you out of or turn off work-related notifications. Otherwise, you may be tempted to work from dusk till dawn. Over time your productivity will take a nosedive and you will burnout, so be proactive.
If you feel stress or anxiety begin to rise, consider THC-free CBD oil to promote a soothe and calm mind. With .03% THC or less, it will not impact your ability to complete your daily tasks.