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The impact of the pandemic has not left anyone untouched. Adapting to the new remote work from home pattern has been mentally and physically taxing on employees and C-suite executives. But we are all adapting to the new normal and working our way through it.
WFH Changing Work Dynamics
Times have changed in the past year when the pandemic fundamentally transformed the way we work. It forced the large-scale workforce to shift to remote work. While remote work from home has benefited us in many ways, it has certainly taken a toll in our personal lives.
Now, we are free to open our laptops and work anytime within the comfort of our own room. Think about it. When work is constantly available to us, our work-life boundaries get blurred easily. A research found out that 44.4% respondents experienced deterioration in their mental health during the covid-19 outbreak since WFH became the new normal. (Source: Qualtrics)
Is Remote Work From Home Affecting Our Wellbeing?
A recent study reported that C-Suite executives had a hard time adapting to the virtual lifestyles, 53% reported struggling with mental health issues while working remotely. The pandemic has been especially hard on Gen-Z, 90% of whom have been struggling with mental health during Covid and 94% Gen-Z workers reported that work stress affects their personal life as well. (Source: Oracle)
While there is nothing more convenient than working from the comforts of our home, it has become detrimental to our physical and mental health. It is no secret that remote work stresses us out and we need to carve out strategies to keep ourselves in check.
Some common challenges that employees may be experiencing are:
- Struggles with adjusting to remote work- While many employees have already adjusted to this new pattern of work, 85% C-level executives are having a harder time adapting to virtual work. (Source: Oracle)It is harder for the C-suite to create a separation between work hours and the rest of the day. Some other challenges of remote work have been the stress of learning new technologies and remote work tools for efficiency and the lack of face-to-face communication with clients and employees.
- Lack of movement throughout the day- Most of our work days look like this- wake up, grab your laptop in bed and log into work. Our work couldn’t be more convenient, right?While remote work has definitely saved us travel time due to restrictions, it has taken a huge toll on our health and fitness levels. Sitting in one spot and staring into our laptop screens all day long has become the new normal for us. But remote work doesn’t have to sabotage our physical health. To stay healthy in this new pattern of work, we must take sufficient breaks from technology, move our bodies mindfully, limit our screen time and intentionally interact with our colleagues and friends.
- Anxiety and depression during the pandemic– Let’s be real. Work from home can be immensely isolating and stressful. Nowadays, our interactions with colleagues are limited to video calls, which are in fact no better than phone calls with our cameras turned off at all times. From quarantine, unexpected deaths of loved ones to job losses, we have seen it all in the past two years of the pandemic.A recent study found out that approximately 264 million people suffer from symptoms of anxiety and depression which costs the global economy $1 trillion per year in lost productivity (Source: WHO)
Despite this, we show up at work everyday, trying to give our best and keep our jobs secure. Therefore, it is crucial for companies to give employees some grace, normalise leaves for mental health and create a positive work environment where employees feel supported and secure.
- The need to be ‘always on’ causing stress- Remote work has made work more accessible as we are just one click away from logging in and sending that email or taking that call. When our personal lives and work environment are under the same roof, it is not easy to switch off. There is always something important left that we’re tempted to tackle even after work hours. This only triggers anxiety and exhaustion and causes low levels of efficiency throughout the day. The best way to cope with this is to set clear boundaries, even reminders if required in order to shut off work mode on time.
Health Is Wealth: A WFH Support Checklist
As many organisations are adopting the remote work policy for the long-term, it is very crucial to imbibe self-care habits to get used to this culture.
Here is a work-from-home support list to help you balance your personal life and work.
- Set boundaries between personal life and workspace– Remote work can be really challenging due to constant interruptions at home. At the same time, it is tempting to curl up in bed with your laptop and a cup of coffee but it leads to low productivity. So, having a dedicated workspace is very crucial for the brain to clearly distinguish between our work environment and our comfortable personal space. At the end of the day, it will also help you switch off from your ‘office mode’ easily and get back into your personal space again.
- Have a set routine outside of work– Having a daily routine to do the most mundane tasks can create a sense of familiarity and clarity. This is especially crucial in these unprecedented times when we are mostly doing everything within the comforts of our home. So, we must set reminders and schedule time for having our meals, exercising, taking time off our screens and waking up and sleeping on time.
- Normalise leaves for mental health- Most of the times, employees feel the need to lie when taking a leave for their mental health. Anxiety and stress are parts of life and it is high time we break the taboo and normalise them. Back in October 2020, Urban Company allowed employees to take unlimited sick leaves if they were mentally or physically unwell or caught the virus. This not only creates a positive work culture, but also allows employees to feel valued and put the best foot forward at work.
- Clear communication and team-bonding activities- It is easy to feel isolated during this time of quarantine. Connecting with colleagues and friends who are supportive makes everyone feel less alone. Everyone might have conflicting schedules, so it is important to set a reminder in your calendar for a video call or a team bonding activity at work.
Promote Mental Health | Reach Out And Connect
Remote work is stressful and organizations should give employees some grace and make mental health a top priority. While stress and anxiety are inevitable, we can manage them and improve our work-life balance. Remember, we are never alone. Reaching out for professional help is always the way to go.
At the end of the day, we are all trying our best to get through this challenging period. Don’t forget to pat yourself on the back by taking a well-deserved break. Bake your favourite dessert, connect with loved ones, and do some relaxing meditation and stretching exercises that will instantly make you feel on top of the world.