Dr. M Saradhi Goud is a Consultant Psychiatrist at Kamineni Hospital LB Nagar with extensive experience in the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of a wide spectrum of psychiatric disorders. He has over 15 years of working experience as a Consultant Psychiatrist at Kamineni Hospitals. His exemplary academic journey sets him apart by giving him a broad insight into the subject. His in-depth knowledge of various treatment modalities and therapies has resulted in patients’ recoveries and improved functionality.
The world of work as we know it is changing. We are seeing a dramatic rise in remote working, with more and more people working away from the physical office location — sometimes by choice, sometimes not. The Covid-19 pandemic has further accelerated these changes, indicating that remote working is here to stay for the foreseeable future.
Throughout 2020, remote working became increasingly popular, with most organizations allowing their employees to work from home. Some businesses are starting to open up their offices again, but others are allowing their employees to remain remotely.
Remote work has managed to impact people’s lives in several ways, either for the best or the worst. Remote work can turn normally optimistic, productive workers into tired, unmotivated, irritable ones. Those who are introverted and prefer to stay away from office politics welcome the chance of remote working. On the other hand, the ones who thrived on constant communication with their fellow employees were impacted by the lack of communication, leading to feelings of isolation and loneliness.
Remote work has several ways that can impact our mental health, and business leaders must be aware of these effects before hitting rock bottom, and learn how to spot the signs of declining mental health so you can address it in a timely way.
According to the WHO, Mental health is “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully and can contribute to his or her community”.
Remote work might cause deterioration of mental health. It can affect the levels of employees, self-discipline, stress, initiate procrastination /frustration, have effect on the resilience, coping abilities and job satisfaction of employees. Work life balance can also be affected due to blurring of roles between work and home commitments, flexibility between the borders of home and work, fluctuating productive levels, difficulty in decision making and planning, and the reaching dead line.
Job and family relations are influenced by absences of physical boundaries between two otherwise distinct worlds which is described as “role blurring” which is the “experience of confusion or difficulty in distinguishing one’s work from one’s family roles”.
A variety of psychological consequences and the challenges of adopting to the new life style of the remote workers have been manifested by large numbers of people such as restrictive social relationships, opportunities, physical activity etc.
Recent studies have shown that remote workers tend to feel far more stressed out compared to their onsite counterparts.
Stress can introduce several symptoms. Here are some of the signs that may indicate that an employee’s stress levels have reached an all-time high:
- Feelings of uncertainty or nervousness
- Feeling depressed or sadness, which can have far reaching effects. The symptoms of depression include:
- Angry outbursts, irritability, or frustration (even over small matters)
- Loss of interest or happiness in activities such as sex or hobbies
- Sleep disturbances, including insomnia and sleeping too much
- Tiredness and lack of energy, so even small tasks take extra effort
- Increased cravings for food
- Anxiety, agitation, and restlessness
- Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions, and remembering things
- Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches
- Often wanting to stay at home rather than going out to socialize or do new activities
- Low motivation levels
Several other things can be included in workplace stress. Plenty of people are having more duties placed on them, both from work and at home. Some people may not have all of the tools they require to finish their tasks while working remotely. Furthermore, the change in routing, uncertainty of the coming future, and concerns about personal health all add to a person’s stress level.
At times, a person may only experience stress for a short while, such as when they are in a new unfamiliar or dangerous situation. That is known as acute stress and commonly occurs in everyone since it’s the body’s way of keeping you safe. But, when stress levels tend to last far longer than necessary, or chronic stress as it’s known, it can cause negative effects on a person’s emotional and mental health. Undergoing high levels of chronic stress can lead to a person experiencing memory issues. Stressed-out individuals are also more likely to have trouble focusing and low energy levels. Heightened levels of stress can also lead to more severe mental health issues. Recent studies have shown that a third of remote workers are experiencing symptoms of depression or anxiety. That has caused several people to turn to alcohol or drugs to cope with the issue.
When stress becomes a constant presence in a person’s life, it can lead to them experiencing some severe burnout. Burn out or professional exhaustion syndrome is characterized by feelings of physical and emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and reduced personal accomplishment. Individuals with low level of mental health seem to be more inclined to suffer from burnout.
A large part of these diagnosis consists of depression, stress disorders and exhaustion syndrome all of which overlap with symptoms of burnout syndrome. Burnout is not the same as being depressed or over worked it is a subtle process in which an individual is gradually caught in a state of mental fatigue and in completely empty and drained of all energy.
Burnout syndrome is a problem born of good intensions because it happens when individuals try to reach unrealistic goals and end up depleting their energy and losing touch with themselves and others.
Remote workers who become burned to have negative thoughts about their current work. They will feel considerably exhausted and start to distance themselves from their team members and the work. That eventually leads to them barely getting any of the work done.
Burnout is an authentic diagnosis that has increased since the start of the pandemic. Burnout can affect the way a person’s brain operates. People who are experiencing burnout are more likely to have a difficult time remembering things and paying attention. However, recent research has discovered that when people feel better about working from home, they are less likely to feel burned out. Finding a way to make remote working more enjoyable is capable of helping your employees handle their mental health better.
Burnout is something that needs to be taken seriously by employees since studies have shown that it’s reached an all-time high.
Mental health has become a growing concern for most organizations, there are still plenty of bumps in the road that are being run into by most companies. Knowing what to look out for is critical. But with right approach, it’s possible to stay positive, productive and look ahead to the future in regards to your career. Balancing your well-being with your work responsibilities is the key to staying healthy both physically and mentally.
How to Take Care of Your Mental Health When You Work remotely
Taking care of your mental health when working remotely is important. Few people realize that burnout is a real medical condition that can easily affect people who work remotely.
There are real consequences to remote workers, especially if you’re not prepared. If it’s your first time working remotely, then it’s important to listen to advice from remote working professionals in order to take better care of your mental health. Here are some practical tips for young professionals to take better care of their mental health when working remotely.
- Stick to a schedule.
- Schedule regular breaks.
- Create a comfortable work environment.
- Remove distractions.
- Consider co-working spaces as an option.
- Understand your limits.
- Unplug from your work–literally.
- Don’t forget to communicate and engage.