While work from home seemed relaxing and interesting in the initial days of the lockdown for the employee, it now seems to have become the leading cause of stress among working professionals.
People are missing the structure at work, the dedicated working hours and workspace, the interactions with teammates, unwinding with colleagues after work, and so much more.
When people work from home, despite the freedom and the comfort of working from their houses, two major things that drive people at work are missing, i.e., routine and structure.
Schedules tend to go haywire, the fine line between work and personal life gets erased, productivity falls, there are miscommunications, and a lot more.
Recent studies over the past few months show that working from home has become one of the leading causes of stress amongst people and have been described using words like lethargic, unproductive, stressful, etc.
Assessing the current conditions and mindset about work from home, we at ForMen have been discussing how work from home affects individuals and their personal lives.
While we wouldn’t say that working from home does not offer some perks, we would agree that, for some, work from home could be a major source of stress, especially with the pandemic going on.
Let us look at what makes working from home desirable while also presenting the points that make it not-so-desirable.
Pros of Working From Home for Employers:
1. You No Longer Get Stuck in Traffic or Rush to Work in The Morning
For those who have to drive to work or take a cab, this probably seems like the best perk about WFH.
You can wake up ten minutes before your workday and still be on time. You no longer have to hurry to dress up unless you have a team video call. You can have a working breakfast or simply enjoy a few pages of your favorite book right before you log in to work.
2. There Is a Lot More Family Time
You get to be around your family all day. You work from home while your kid attends online classes in the next room. You are both busy, but you know that they are around.
During the pandemic, almost every one of us has witnessed at least one video call with a team member where a kid or a pup peeks in from the corner.
3. You Get to Indulge in Things You Like
Whether it’s a home-cooked meal or sitting to eat with your family more often, taking a break with a warm cup of cocoa and your favorite novel, or catching up on a series, working remotely allows you to indulge in the things you like. You don’t just get up, get ready, go to work, come back tired, have food, and go to sleep.
You can sneak your guilty pleasures into your schedule and still get work done.
4. The Choice of Location Is Yours
Now that the lockdown is over in most places, the choice of location has opened up further.
You can work from a cafe, a co-working space, your favorite spot in your garden, your aunt’s place, your terrace, the list of places is endless.
Of course, there’s a lot of risk in stepping out of your house, and we wouldn’t recommend doing so, but occasionally, with proper social distancing and sanitization, you may opt for outdoor spaces too. You no longer have to sit in your (boring) cubicle and decorate it to make it pretty.
5. You Can Customize Your Workspace
While some of us have been working from our beds, working from home allows you to set up your workplace just how you want.
People all around have bought tables and chairs and made their workspace at home more professional but personal.
Some organizations have gone a step further to provide fully equipped workstations to all their employees so that productivity remains high.
6. You Can Save a Lot by Avoiding Some Expenses
Right from your cab rides to tea breaks and hanging out with colleagues for expensive dinners, we have all done our bank accounts a favor while working from home.
While people still go out for lunches or treat themselves to something special, costs associated with working from the office, including buying office wear have reduced drastically.
7. You Do Not Have To Be Extra Social All The Time
This could be a plus for introverts who prefer working on their own in their own spaces. There is no compulsion to interact with everyone in the office. Most interactions are limited to team calls and occasional online team building activities hosted by HR.
These were some of the advantages that working from home offers. It allows you to be free, comfortable and set your schedule according to your wish. But, it does have drawbacks too. Let us look at them.
Cons of Working From Home for Employers:
1. Distractions Are Endless
While working from home, the number of distractions are endless. Sometimes it may be your house help ringing the bell, or your kids wanting you to play with them, or your pet wanting some attention.
Most people, especially women, have been having a hard time juggling work and family responsibilities.
You have deadlines to meet, but you also cannot turn down your kids, asking you to help them with their homework. In the office, these distractions are limited to occasional phone calls from home, and you can still get work done.
2. You Have No Excuse to Escape Family Commitments
We often use work as an excuse to avoid family engagements or other commitments that we do not like. With work from home becoming the new norm, everyone is at home, and they know you are at home too.
For some, these engagements might also cause a lot of stress if they aren’t fond of all their relatives.
3. It Is Difficult to Make People Understand That Work from Home Is Still Serious Work
In most cases, family members do not leave you completely alone while you are working. Your mum may sit with you and engage in a friendly conversation you work, not understanding that your focus gets disturbed. It is also difficult to tell your family that you want to be left alone, as it might hurt their feelings.
So what do you do? You continue working with a diverted focus, it hampers your work, and you then get subjected to questions by your manager. You also take twice as much time to complete the same work when you try to focus on two things at a time.
While you might still be okay if this happens once a while if this is a regular occurrence, it slowly builds into frustration, and you start wanting to go back to the office.
4. Sometimes You Are Not Very Motivated
This one is quite common. Not all days are very productive. When you feel demotivated in the office, looking at your colleagues meeting their deadlines, or a pep talk from your manager, or just the fact that you are being watched at work, is enough to get your motor running.
However, while working from home, somedays, you might feel demotivated and will not get any work done. This can lead to guilt and a sense of something being incomplete, which in turn affects your temperament.
5. Lethargy Creeps in Easily
Sounds relatable, doesn’t it? When you know you need to be at work by 10 a.m., you plan your workout, meals, and everything important in advance. But, when you have nothing to drive you, it is easy to fall out of routines.
There is a tendency to sleep in late, eat irregular meals, snack on unhealthy foods, and often work from the bed while you sit inside your blanket. Your otherwise sorted lifestyle has now become a mess, and you feel more lethargic than you have ever felt.
6. Your Work Comes Home with You
While working from home, it becomes difficult to switch off your laptop and disconnect from work. Unless you set clear rules for yourself, like you will not check your emails after 8 pm, chances are high that you will still be replying to emails before you go to bed.
Working from home has diminished the fine line between work and personal space. Often, you are not fully present at work, and you are also not fully present at home, which is a very unhealthy space to be.
Most people working from home feel that they are always working. Your manager may excuse you in the afternoon for an hour to attend to your children, but it will be expected that you complete your work when they go to sleep.
It’s not very surprising when managers ask their employees to be available for a meeting after dinner while working from home, because, after all, you are working from home, all you have to do is move to a quiet room with your phone.
7. You’ve Started Working Longer
Employees have reported that their work hours have increased since they have been working from home. While lunch breaks get stretched occasionally, on most days employees end up working a few more hours than their usual work hours.
This has caused extreme stress in most people because most companies do not pay for these extra hours, and they go unaccounted for.
8. No Proper Work Environment
Not everyone has the luxury of having a home office and end up working from their beds, which studies have shown to hamper productivity. Some employees may live with joint families or smaller houses, which are less than ideal for one to sit in a corner and complete their work.
9. You Feel Isolated
Working from home may have acted as a boon for those who do not like to interact much, but generally, it has been reported to cause a feeling of loneliness and isolation. Human beings are social animals and need to interact with other human beings to maintain a healthy state of being.
Since working from home and social distancing has been implemented, interactions have become limited to group video calls which just do not feel the same. People who tend to unwind with their friends after stressful days have been hit the hardest due to this.
10. Social Media Takes Up a Lot of Your Energy and Time
With no one to police you about using social media at work while you work from home, it is easy to end up spending hours mindlessly scrolling through Instagram or other social media sites.
This increased social media usage has not only been affecting mental health but has been hampering productivity too. Even when you are engrossed in work, it takes just one notification to land you on social media, and you end up scrolling through stories and feeds.
In the end, you only realize that you have a lot of work due, and you just spent an hour scrolling through meaningless posts.
All these factors have been contributing to the stress that working from home has been causing. People are missing the work setting. They miss the social connections, the schedule that helped them be productive, the designated work hours, and others.
While work from home might have been a boon to those who have wanted to spend more time with their families, it hasn’t been the same for those who often use work as an escape from personal problems.
Either way, we must adapt and make the best of the situation. Don’t forget to get adequate physical activity and eat healthily.
Bottomline – Health IS Wealth