The high-speed progress of technology redefines healthcare and also has a major effect on our wellbeing. One of the most debated issues in the digitalized world of today is how much technology should we let into our lives. Remote work is a big part of that. On the one hand, the ability to work remotely and on a flexible schedule provides many benefits to both physical and mental health. On the other hand, there is a growing body of evidence that shows how working from home can be extremely stressful and therefore bad for your mental health. So, which is truly better, to work in an office or from home? The right answer, as always, is somewhere in the middle.
The Effects of Remote Work on Mental Health: The Good and the Bad
One thing isn’t up for debate, there is an undeniable connection between remote work and mental health. And that connection has two sides that are very much different. One is the benefits you get with remote work that come from the freedom of it. Flexibility to adjust your schedule to make it fit the rhythm of your life better is the best thing about working remotely. This is what helps reduce a lot of the stress associated with working at an office or on shifts. Using this flexibility, you get to develop a lifestyle that will be more beneficial for your mental and physical health as a whole. Another benefit for mental health specifically is that remote work allows you more control of your life. For people struggling with depression or anxiety, which means over 10% of the world’s population, this kind of control can be an essential part of the recovery. You also get smaller but nonetheless significant benefits that help reduce stress in some ways. These include the lack of commuting or the need to interact with people you don’t like. There’s many a story about nasty workplace intrigue, bullying, and harassment. Working from home allows you to avoid all that, which definitely helps protect your mental health. However, new surveys show that there is another side to working from home, which has the opposite effect on your mental health. The problem is that many people who choose this way of life take “working remotely” to mean “being connected 24/7”. It also needs to be noted that many employers make this a requirement. If this happens, instead of a flexible schedule you get a job that requires you to be on alert at all times. Therefore, you can’t relax at all and constant stress becomes your way of life. This undermines your mental and physical health and can cause the development of multiple disorders. Add to this the fact that when you are constantly connected, you cannot maintain a healthy social life. You also cannot develop a routine if you might need to drop everything at a moment’s notice and get to work. There are many similar factors that contribute to remote work becoming a cause of mental health problems. And once those start, physical health problems are soon to follow.
So, Is Remote Work Good or Bad for Mental Health?
Considering the facts outlined above, it’s easy to see that remote work has the power to both benefit or ruin your mental health. The difference lies in the balance. Specifically, it’s the balance between your professional and personal life that matters here. The majority of issues that have a negative effect on the mental health of remote workers occur because they cannot set boundaries between the two. They are connected at all times, which means that they are working 24/7. The solution to this problem is to remember that while remote work might be flexible, it’s still work and it has to be limited. You will have to sacrifice some part of the flexibility for it, but it’s imperative to develop a routine. This means that you must have a schedule you follow, even if it doesn’t adhere to regular office hours. And when your work hours are over, you need to put the work away completely. Unless your contract with the employer stipulates otherwise, you should limit your contact with anything work-related during your off-hours, even if you spend them on the same computer you use for work. Set boundaries and develop routines, these are the rules that can help you improve your mental health by working from home.