Impact of Remote Work on Mental Health
The Continuing Impact of Remote Work on Mental Health

The Continuing Impact of Remote Work on Mental Health

In recent years, remote work has become more and more common. While remote work has many benefits, it also has its challenges. Many of these challenges center around mental health. Today, Racing for Mental Health will share the ways remote work impacts our mental health. Let’s talk about what you can do to help yourself and others.

 

The Initial Shift: Adapting to Remote Work

The sudden change to remote work during the global pandemic challenged employees. Overnight, we found ourselves in virtual workspaces. We had the stress of a pandemic and needed to figure out video calls and digital collaboration tools. The abruptness of this transition changed familiar routines, leading to stress and uncertainty. While the pandemic is over, many employees still work from home. And many of these employees still struggle with the same mental health challenges. This is partly because we still haven’t changed systems to better support workers.

Remote Work's Impact On Mental Health

 

Remote Work’s Impact On Mental Health

While the pandemic is over, it’s becoming more obvious that the impact on our mental health is long-lasting. Remote work environments can still create feelings of isolation, loneliness, and burnout.

 

Isolation and Loneliness

The home work environment is isolating. Many of us experience a deep sense of loneliness. Employees can’t gather around the water cooler to build connections. Gone are the days when passing someone in the hall was an opportunity to connect. Instead, communication is all virtual. This virtual communication doesn’t replicate the social connections of an office setting. Studies find that it’s more challenging to build connections when working remotely.

In addition, remote workplace courtesy doesn’t often reflect in-person standards. Many people feel the need to be less professional behind the safety of a computer screen. This can create more feelings of disconnect and loneliness within the workplace.

 

Burnout in the Virtual Workspace: Blurring Work and Personal Life

The virtual workspace can cross the boundaries between work and personal life. When work crosses into personal boundaries, we run the risk of burnout. In a traditional office setting, the drive home is a physical and mental transition. The time in the car allows us to disconnect from work. However, remote work removes this natural boundary. Without the physical separation, it’s hard to find a mental separation.

Our constant access to digital communication tools can lead to an “always-on” mentality. We often feel pressure to respond to emails, attend virtual meetings, or address work-related questions outside regular working hours. This extended workday can cut into our personal time. And before we know it, we can’t find the balance we need for our mental well-being. 

The Role of Employers: Building a Supportive Culture

 

The Role of Employers: Building a Supportive Culture

Employers have a significant impact on the well-being of remote workers. There are many things that employers could put in place to reduce the mental toll working from home has. It is the employers’ job to create a remote workspace that values and prioritizes mental health. There are several ways employers can help build a positive remote work environment. Let’s share a few!

 

Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs)

Many organizations offer Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs). These programs give people confidential counseling services and resources. EAPs can be valuable, offering professional assistance for various personal and work-related issues. Remote workers should know about the availability and accessibility of these programs.

 

Virtual Mental Health Workshops and Seminars

Holding virtual mental health workshops and seminars can empower remote employees. These meetings can teach employees the skills to manage stress, anxiety, and loneliness. They can also cover topics such as resilience, coping mechanisms, and work-life balance. Making these resources easily accessible ensures that employees can engage at their convenience.

 

Online Counseling Services

Using online counseling services can help people seeking professional mental health support. Employers can use teletherapy platforms to offer a convenient and confidential way for employees to connect with licensed therapists.

 

Well-being Apps and Platforms

Employers can explore partnerships with well-being apps. They can also connect with programs that offer a variety of mental health resources. These apps often provide guided meditation sessions, stress-relief exercises, and mood-tracking features. Making these tools a part of workplace culture encourages a proactive approach to mental well-being.

 

Community and Peer Support Groups

Creating virtual support groups allows employees to connect with peers facing similar challenges. These groups can create space for sharing experiences and support. Knowing that others are navigating similar waters can be reassuring and empowering. It can also reduce loneliness as employees have more opportunities to connect with each other.

 

Flexible Work Policies

We all have many other responsibilities, pulling on our time. And we could all use a little grace and flexibility to manage family, medical needs, and loved ones. Adopting flexible work policies contributes to a supportive remote work environment. Understanding that employees face different challenges shows a commitment to prioritizing mental health.

 

Communication Channels for Mental Health

Open and transparent communication about mental health resources is crucial. Employers should communicate the availability of mental health support. This means providing clear information on how employees can access these resources on a regular basis. Normalizing discussions around mental health reduces stigma. It also helps people feel empowered to seek help.

Regardless of your position within the remote environment, we encourage you to be a part of the change you wish to see. Through raising awareness, we can create a thriving remote work environment.

Strategies for Maintaining Mental Well-being in a Remote Environment

 

Strategies for Maintaining Mental Well-being in a Remote Environment

Even if your workplace doesn’t take steps to improve mental health, you still can! Here are seven practical strategies to help you focus on your mental health when working remotely:

 

1. Establish a Dedicated Workspace

Creating a designated space for work at home helps create clear boundaries. Don’t work from your bed or couch, as this can blur the lines and make it harder to switch off from work. A separate, organized workspace helps with focus during work hours. It also helps you mentally disconnect when the workday ends.

 

2. Set Clear Work Hours and Breaks

Define your work hours and communicate them to your colleagues. This clarity helps you manage your time effectively and sets expectations for others. Additionally, schedule regular breaks throughout the day. Set a timer on your phone for regular 15-minute intervals. When the timer goes off, sit up, stretch, and get the blood flowing to your brain.

 

3. Prioritize Regular Physical Activity

Adding regular physical exercise into your routine is key for your well-being. Try for a twenty-minute morning workout, a midday stretch, or an evening stroll. Whatever you choose, exercise will help with stress and mood. Find activities you enjoy and make them a non-negotiable part of your schedule. 

 

4. Establish Clear Boundaries with Communication

Define boundaries for work-related communication. Communicate your availability to colleagues and set expectations for response times. Check work-related emails within your work hours to prevent constant connectivity. This helps manage stress and contributes to a healthier work-life balance.

 

5. Foster Social Connections

Fight feelings of isolation by spending time making deliberate connections. Schedule virtual coffee breaks or informal meetings with colleagues. Outside of work, engage in social activities with friends and family. Meaningful social connections are a key factor in mental well-being.

 

6. Practice Mindfulness

Add mindfulness and stress reduction activities into your daily routine. Practices such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, or guided imagery can help manage stress levels. Dedicate a few minutes each day to focus on your mental well-being. By making your mental health a habit, you can build a sense of calm and resilience.

 

7. Take Regular Tech Breaks

Looking at a screen can add to mental fatigue. Schedule regular tech breaks to give your eyes and mind a rest. Use these breaks to step away from your computer, engage in a non-screen activity, or relax. Balancing technology with disconnection can contribute to mental well-being and productivity.

By applying these strategies, you can address the challenges we see in a remote workplace.  

 

Future Outlook: Navigating the Evolving Landscape

Looking ahead, the landscape of remote work is forever evolving. It’s impossible to know the future, but knowing your values helps you face whatever the future brings. If your mental health is a value you hold, then you carry that value into work. Advocate for the change you want to see within your virtual workplace. 

Let's Talk About It

 

Let’s Talk About It!

We know that working from home has many benefits. However, when we don’t take care of ourselves, it can worsen mental health struggles.

The ongoing impact of remote work on mental health shows the need for us to build healthy practices and support systems. After we acknowledge the challenges, it’s important to find solutions. Only then can we build a work environment that cares about mental well-being. When we transform our workplaces, we start to transform our culture! If you want to advocate for better mental health support in your workplace, talk to one of our team members today! We’d love to share how you can become a community ambassador

You can also join our conversations on mental health on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter!