On World Mental Health Day Let’s See How Remote Work Affects Mental Health
This year’s World Mental Health Day, on 10 October, comes at a time when our daily lives have changed considerably as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Never has health in general been more important than it is right now. But health is more than just the physical manifestation of a well working body, it also means being mentally well. Some people call mental health ‘emotional health’ or ‘well-being’ and it’s just as important as good physical health.
The idea of World Mental Health Day around the world is to bring to focus the importance of mental health and de-stigmatise mental health problems. With the massive switch to remote working, it’s interesting to see how remote working and mental wellbeing interact with each other.
On June 2020, WorkFromHub conducted a survey, to see how independent working affected workers across the globe. The study highlighted that flexibility and commute-free working were big talking points. With 72% of the respondents preferring a flexible work option (office + home + remote), and only 13% preferred to work from home. A big reason for that is the effect these two have not only on productivity, but also on the mental health of a person
Remote working – a positive impact on mental health?
Although it seems like shifting work spaces/ hubs should be a complicated process leading to more issues than resolving them, the opposite is actually true for remote working.
According to a study which surveyed 1,035 remote workers by ZenBusiness found that one of the biggest advantages of this new work routine is better mental health. 60% of respondents claimed that their mental health has improved. Interestingly, those working remotely full-time were less likely to report an improvement (56.2%) than those who work this way often (64.6%).
So what is affecting this uptick in mental health?
As discussed earlier flexibility is a huge draw for remote working. Being unfettered from four walls of the office leaves you to expand- physically and mentally. The freedom of remote work allows people to dedicate their personal hours and time to the work they want to do. Unregimented work hours work wonders for a worker’s mental health- it allows you to prioritise your personal welling, improves quality of life and promotes happiness in ways an office workspace could not allow.
According to a study of more than 3,000 respondents, 86% of the respondents said flexibility at work would also allow them to reduce stress. Meanwhile, 97% said a job with flexibility would have a huge improvement or positive impact on their overall quality of life.
Reduced Workspace Stress
Stress and work are often synonyms with workspace stress being a major source of overall stress faced by adults and that it has only escalated in the mast decades. For many, the option of remote working had never been a possibility before this year. These workers are completely surprised by the extraordinary effects a location independent workspace has had on their stress levels. The ability to avoid workplace drama and politics and still do work productively is a big draw for newly converted remote workers, a change they wish to see post-pandemic as well.
The biggest draw for telecommuting is undoubtedly avoiding the stressful journey that makes up our daily commute. Commuting has several poor effects on people’s physical and mental health and it’s no surprise that avoiding commute altogether has vastly improved people’s mental health.
So much so, Tim Minahan, executive vice president of Citrix told CNBC Make It calculated that the time lost in commute amounts nearly to 105 hours– that’s 13 days- which is now freed up for leisure time that workers can use as they wish. Telework thus not only removes negative obstacles but also positively impacts workers to reclaim the day in ways they wish.
All these just scratch the surface of the benefits remote work has on mental health. With the added ease of technology remote work eases obstacles in a way traditional workspace have failed to account for in decades.
Challenges of Remote Work
While there are a lot of positive things about working remotely, it is a change that needs to be carefully dealt with. Employees across the board have expressed how working from home has also been super challenging! In our previous blog “Home becomes the office – Mental wellbeing and remote work“, we outlined from our studies the negatives or challenges of working from home, and how to work through them. Interestingly they have been all about – inconsistent collaboration & communication, fighting loneliness, unstructured work hours, and distractions at home.
Employers and leaders need to find innovative and efficient ways to deal with this situation. An interesting way to deal with this could be for companies to provide employees with remote working allowances. This then allows them to set up a home office or work from a satellite work hub / space with all facilities accessible. This could allow employees to take that much-needed break from a distractions at home, and allow more space for productivity and creativity.
It is clear that adjusting to these new challenges has definitely brought upon more attention on mental health and well-being. But it is important to keep in mind that if these challenges are addressed in the right way, the positives of remote working are sure to shine!
Remote work is future of working not just for its financial and ecological benefits but also because of the way it allows you to take care of what’s most important – you.
Learn how to leverage remote work in the way that’s best for you or your business at WorkFromHub. Get in touch with us to know how to transition to remote work permanently.