How Work From Home Is Impacting Our Mental Health

Although work from home might seem like a new phenomenon brought about by the Covid-19
pandemic, interestingly it dates long back to the 1973 OPEC oil embargo where work from
home policies were adopted as a relief from the soaring gasoline prices that made commuting
extremely expensive. Even before the pandemic, many companies had taken this trend one
step ahead by dispersing employees and eliminating high level officials to increase employee
engagement and reduce attrition rates.

The drastic transition to remote work during the current pandemic was a smooth phase for
some, while for others it was an altogether new experience which consisted of unique
challenges. In the last two years, we noticed the haste with which individuals and organizations
adapted to this change making it the new normal, more so because of the benefits of this model
for all- individuals, organization and the society.

The formal and informal interactions in the office through breaks and meetings were a way of life for the employees but the sudden shift allowed all of us to be more adaptive of our working space and more adjusting of our work environment.

The employees in the organization benefited greatly from this new system in regard to the geographic flexibility and freedom from commute providing them with a better work-life integration. With the flexibility, also came the adjustment we made to balance our professional and personal lives and trade-off responsibilities with the people we were living with.

It gave individuals a chance to prioritize family, work commitments and shift their schedules,
aiding them in setting their work-life boundaries. Without any question, the work from home
setup worked really well for the employees as recent studies have shown that 41% of them
were in support of continuing with working from home when asked their preference. (Mukherjee
& Narang, 2022). With the aid of technology and digital connectivity, employees are more
connected to their work and family, but what about the organizations?

The concept of secure borderless workspaces adopted by TCS highlighted how significantly the
remote work trend benefitted the organizations wherein they could expand their talent pool
globally. Through this trend, not only could they reverse the brain drain which acts as a threat to
countries but also manage to cut down on real estate costs and reduce turnover.

Does this also mean that these countless benefits make work from home an ideal work model
for all employees and organizations? Certainly not. The work from home trend also raised some
very significant concerns through its course for both the employees as well as the organizations.
Sitting in front of the laptops in our rooms, no gossip breaks between meetings, lack of space to
get help or to ask questions often reduces motivation and leads to burnout.

Recent surveys have also revealed home office constraints, work uncertainties and inadequate tools to be the major disadvantages for remote work for the employees. Numerous platforms like Zoom,
Google teams, hangouts, Skype, etc. have been excessively used for communication which are
great for similar time zones, but when employees are globally hired, communication is not
synchronous. Hence, brainstorming and problem solving or even socialization becomes a
challenge for such teams. Remote workers in this sense often feel disconnected from their
organizations and colleagues that can contribute to the already existing feeling of isolation. Lack
of in-person meetings and informal connections often exhibit as team dysfunction and

How Work From Home Is Impacting Our Mental Health

The pandemic has given us a lot to introspect and reflect upon, to process, to acknowledge the
changes that are occurring around us and to address the impact this transition has created for
us. Work from home can be a rocky road for many of us. The social isolation, disconnection,
lack of motivation, and enmeshing of work-life boundaries can have crucial repercussions in our
personal and professional lives, affecting both our physical and mental health. Time and again
numerous health organizations, like the American Psychiatric Association (APA) have
concluded that the majority of employees working from home experience negative mental health
impacts, loneliness and difficulty getting away from work. It is also not unknown how the remote
work trend and the ongoing pandemic both have contributed to the rise of mental health
concerns such as anxiety, stress, depression, procrastination, etc.

Now, can we conclude that working from home is unhealthy for our mental health and well-
being? No, although prolonged impact of the pandemic affected our mental health pervasively,
interestingly, according to the researches 41.6% of the population has also reported a decline in
their mental health conditions while working from home. There is no magic factor here, but
management of the stress caused by these concerns. Building positive relationships, taking
breaks, learning how to motivate yourself, prioritizing self-care and achieving work-life
integration instead of balance is the key to success here. Sometimes, we might lose sight of
how to manage certain concerns or either not have the will, where it becomes essential to seek
support. Our work at Mind Piper is all about that support. Concerns experienced during work

from home can be overwhelming and sometimes hard to identify where the role of a mental
health professional or a therapist comes in. Recognizing the challenges and building a healthy
emotional and mental self is critical in this changing era. Now, the final question is what lies
ahead? Be it work from home or work from office, the future of work now requires a
collaboration of employees and organizations, to recognize the need of the hour, to create a
change in how we view work, how we understand work relationships and the professional world
where mental health is not overlooked but instead celebrated.