Remote working has rapidly become the new normal for many people in today’s society. Not only does it offer flexibility and the ability to work from any location, it also reduces the need to commute and can provide a better work-life balance.
However, despite its many benefits, remote working can also have negative effects on mental and physical health. In fact, studies have shown that remote workers are just as stressed as those who work in traditional office environments, if not more so.
So how can remote working increase stress, and what can you do to alleviate it?
One of the biggest drawbacks of remote working is the feeling of isolation. When you work in an office, you have colleagues and team members to collaborate with and bounce ideas off. This social interaction can be a great source of motivation and inspiration.
When you work remotely, however, you may find yourself working alone for long periods of time. This can lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation, which can be a major source of stress.
To combat this, try to stay connected to your colleagues and peers through regular phone or video calls. Join online communities or forums related to your industry or interests, and try to participate in discussions where you can. You can also consider working out of coworking spaces, which offer a social atmosphere and the chance to connect with other remote workers.
Inability to switch off
One of the biggest benefits of remote working is the ability to set your own schedule. However, this can also mean that you find it difficult to switch off from work.
When your workspace is also your home space, it can be hard to mentally separate yourself from work. You may find yourself checking emails late at night or on weekends, leading to a feeling of being constantly ‘switched on.’
To combat this, it’s important to establish clear boundaries between work and home life. Set yourself clear working hours and make sure to stick to them. Utilise tools such as scheduling apps to help you organise your time effectively and prioritise tasks. Most importantly, allow yourself time to switch off from work and engage in activities you enjoy outside of work.
Lack of structure
A lack of structure can be another source of stress when working remotely. With nobody else around to monitor your progress, it can be easy to fall behind on tasks or to become distracted by other things.
To avoid this, it’s important to establish a routine and structure for your day. Set regular hours for work and make sure to stick to them. Create a to-do list or schedule for each day, and prioritise your tasks accordingly. Make sure to take regular breaks and stretch your legs, just as you would in an office environment.
While working from home can be great for reducing commute time, it can also come with its own set of distractions. From the temptation of social media to family members or flatmates interrupting your work, it can be difficult to maintain focus.
To combat this, designate a specific work area in your home where you can shut out distractions and be productive. Make sure to communicate clearly with those around you about your working hours and the need for quiet during this time.
You can also utilise tools such as noise-canceling headphones or productivity apps that block distracting websites during working hours.
Lack of technology support
Remote working often means that you are responsible for your own technical set up. This can be a source of stress if you do not have the knowledge or resources to troubleshoot issues that arise.
If you are experiencing technical difficulties, it’s important to reach out to your IT department or technical support team. Make sure you have a clear understanding of who to contact in case of problems and the procedures for getting assistance.
Pressure to always be productive
Remote working can create a pressure to always be productive. There’s a constant anxiety about meeting deadlines, delivering on expectations, and being disciplined when it comes to work. This can lead to increased stress and burnout.
It’s important to set realistic expectations for yourself and your workload. Don’t feel like you have to be constantly ‘on’ and working at all hours. Remember to take regular breaks, as well as vacation time, to avoid burnout and recharge.
Lack of clear communication
Without face-to-face communication, it can be easy for misunderstandings to arise. This can be a particular problem when working remotely with colleagues or clients who speak a different language or come from different cultures.
Make sure to communicate clearly and proactively. Use video calls or instant messaging to clarify any questions or issues. It’s also important to establish clear communication protocols and best practices with your colleagues or team to avoid any confusion.
Working remotely can lead to a blur between work and your personal life, as well as making it harder to switch off from work completely. This can make it difficult to maintain a healthy work-life balance, leading to stress or burnout.
It’s important for remote workers to establish boundaries between work and personal time. Set specific times for work and personal activities, and try to stick to them. Schedule time for self-care activities, such as exercise or meditation, to help manage stress and promote a healthy balance between work and life.
Missing out on company culture
Remote workers may find it hard to feel part of a company culture, as well as missing out on informal conversations and relationships that can develop in traditional office environments.
To counteract this, try to participate in virtual team-building activities, such as online happy hours or coffee chats. You can also organise informal meetings or get-togethers with colleagues when possible.
Limited career progression
Finally, remote workers may feel that their career progression is limited due to the lack of face-to-face interaction with colleagues, as well as missing out on networking opportunities.
Make sure to stay involved in industry events, join online associations or networks, and continue to develop your skills and knowledge. Communicate with your team leader or manager about your career aspirations and make sure that you are aware of any relevant opportunities that arise.
In conclusion, remote working is a practical option for many individuals that offers a variety of benefits. It allows for more flexibility and freedom in one’s professional life, which can ultimately lead to a better work-life balance.
However, remote working can also come with its own set of challenges that can lead to increased levels of stress. Isolation, lack of structure, distractions, pressure to be productive, and limited career progression are just a few examples of the many factors that can create stress for remote workers.
It is important for individuals who work remotely to take proactive measures to manage stress and ensure well-being. From setting schedules and boundaries, creating a structured work environment, and actively staying connected to colleagues, there are numerous ways in which remote workers can effectively manage stress and navigate challenges as they arise.
In summary, remote working is a viable and increasingly popular option for individuals in today’s fast-paced and highly connected world. With a focus on managing stress and maintaining a healthy balance between work and life, remote workers can fully realize the potential of this exciting and evolving professional landscape.