A single work model has not had as much impact on global socioeconomics as the rise of telecommuting. Remote work has unprecedented opportunities to solve global crises…but is it also fueling a new one?
Almost 84% of all remote workers are working from a home office. The ability to work from anywhere has recently sparked the digital nomad movement in which professionals are able to travel the world, packing nothing but a laptop to keep them active in a part-time or full-time job. As glamorous as this might look on social media, the reality is that most remote workers are anxious to leave the time and distance of traveling during their commuting days, and instead just clock in from where they are already at.
Any remote worker will tell you that replacing suits with slippers is a liberating transition. However, it seems as though the confining corporate cubicles that we are so anxious to escape may actually be boosting our behavioral health.
Any remote worker will tell you that replacing suits with slippers is a liberating transition. However, it seems as though the confining corporate cubicles that we are so anxious to escape may actually be boosting our behavioral health resulting into symptoms of anxiety and depression ,feelings of isolation and loneliness and high rates of worry about job performance and stability. Insomnia and sleep disturbances are common, along with increased fatigue, irritation, sadness and feelings of disconnection.
Remote workers may also experience a lack of concentration and focus that can compound and exacerbate these mental health challenges.
What causes this though?
The freedom of higher autonomy also results in a heavier operational load of self-management responsibilities including IT troubleshooting, time management, and task prioritization.
A lack of environmental markers in career development (such as moving from a small cubicle into a large corner office) can prevent workers from recognizing progress and achievements. Over time, this can lead to concerns like career stagnancy or imposter syndrome.
Freelancers have the unique pressure of both finding work and producing it. This constant state of being in “the hustle” can contribute to sustained stress.
Because the success of distributed teams is often measured by results, workers can be tempted to overwork to inflate their output. This can result in unpaid hours, lack of sleep, poor engagement in personal relationships, or mental burnout.
The idyllic serenity of an uninterrupted home office environment easily translates into deeply focused work sessions, which is great for productivity, but terrible for ergonomic health. The distractions of coworkers and bustling office activity subconsciously prompt us to take a break from our sedentary work often enough to maintain visual, auditory and mental health.
Poorly defined physical boundaries between a worker’s personal life and professional life (such as working from bed) can lead to poorly defined boundaries in time and mental thought processes, causing a difficulty in “unplugging.”
To avoid being caught up in this situation, invest in a home office, diversify your interests, communicate transparently, increase movement and build a support network.