Sarah got into the groove of leaving early from her home, to avoid the congestion on the highway, listening to a podcast in her car and arriving at the office before it got busy. She spent the first hour or so getting coffee from the office Nespresso machine, checking some of her social channels and completing a micro-learning activity from her leadership development journey. By the time the office got busy, she was settled and ready to interact, contribute and collaborate. When she left the office after a busy day, she packed her laptop away, selected her playlist for the drive home and became “the traffic”. This 45 minute crawl gave her space to disconnect from her “work” persona and get ready to once again put on her mom, wife and daughter persona. Here at home, fewer people actually listen to her, there is a lot more outward moaning, crying & nagging. But fortunately, she loves the people more! Her evening is noisy, busy and if she is lucky she gets in a run & a candle-lit bath.
Now, she gets to escape from home and enter the adult-only world of the workplace very occasionally. The office sub-letted and the shared space isn’t quite as comfortable. Most people work remotely and even if she goes into the office, most of her time she is on virtual calls, which seems pretty pointless and a waste of make-up! So whilst she misses the transition, the podcasts, the ironic peace of the traffic, the hubbub of people & interruptions, she has joined in with her colleagues and now embraces working from home. She gained commute time, but seems to have lost the distinction between working Sarah and home Sarah. Sometimes the lines are so blurred that she takes calls whilst on her run, and checks emails in the bath. She cooks and does on-line shopping whilst half listening to her micro-learning. And if she is lucky, she gets to flop into bed remembering what it used to be like to chat with her colleagues over high-quality coffee, with sustained power!
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many people to work from home, and this has had a significant impact on their wellbeing. There are both positive and negative aspects to working from home, and it is important to be aware of both in order to make the most of this new way of working.
Positive Impacts of Working from Home on Wellbeing
There are a number of positive impacts of working from home on wellbeing. These include:
- Reduced stress: Many people find that they are less stressed when they work from home. This is because they can avoid the commute, which can be a major source of stress for many people. They can also work in a more comfortable environment, which can help to reduce stress levels.
- Increased productivity: Some people find that they are more productive when they work from home. This is because they are able to focus on their work without distractions. They may also be able to work more flexibly, which can help them to get more done.
- Improved work-life balance: Working from home can help to improve work-life balance. This is because people are able to spend more time with their families and friends. They may also be able to take breaks throughout the day, which can help them to stay refreshed and productive.
Negative Impacts of Working from Home on Wellbeing
While there are many positive impacts of working from home on wellbeing, there are also some potential negative impacts. These include:
- Loneliness: Some people find that they feel lonely when they work from home. This is because they miss the social interaction that they get from working in an office. They may also feel isolated and cut off from their colleagues.
- Unclear boundaries between work and personal life: It can be difficult to maintain clear boundaries between work and personal life when you work from home. This is because you may be tempted to work longer hours or to check your work emails outside of work hours. This can lead to burnout and stress.
- Physical inactivity: People who work from home may be less physically active than people who work in an office. This is because they may not have as many opportunities to move around during the day. This can lead to weight gain and other health problems.
Actions for Organizations to Take to Leverage the Good and Counteract the Bad
There are a number of things that organizations can do to leverage the good and counteract the bad impacts of working from home on wellbeing. These include:
- Provide clear expectations: Organizations should provide clear expectations for employees who work from home. This includes setting clear goals and deadlines, as well as providing guidance on how to manage work-life balance.
- Encourage social interaction: Organizations should encourage social interaction among employees who work from home. This can be done by providing opportunities for virtual team meetings, chat rooms, and other forms of communication.
- Promote physical activity: Organizations should promote physical activity among employees who work from home. This can be done by providing access to fitness resources, such as online workout classes or gym memberships.
- Provide mental health support: Organizations should provide mental health support to employees who work from home. This can be done by providing access to counseling services or by offering stress management workshops.
Actions for Managers to Take to Leverage the Good and Counteract the Bad
Managers can also play a role in helping to ensure that employees who work from home are able to maintain their wellbeing. These include:
- Check in regularly: Managers should check in regularly with employees who work from home. This will help to ensure that they are on track with their work and that they are not feeling overwhelmed.
- Be flexible: Managers should be flexible with employees who work from home. This means being understanding if they need to take breaks or if they need to work different hours.
- Provide support: Managers should provide support to employees who work from home. This means being available to answer questions and to provide guidance.
By taking these steps, organizations and managers can help to ensure that employees who work from home are able to maintain their wellbeing. This will help to improve their productivity and their overall quality of life.