What are the hidden costs of remote working on our mental health?

For some people, remote work is positive, as it allows them to better balance their work and home commitments, without having to spend hours commuting and racing back from meetings to do the school run.

But the benefits of being able to work in your own space and avoid office politics come at a cost. Even if you might feel happy about working from home, there are several hidden issues that you need to be aware of before making the decision to remain remote. Everyone is different when it comes to their mental health, but checking in with yourself can mean that you catch any concerns before they become a bigger issue.

Loss of team spirit

Whilst you might be introverted or prefer solo work, even just being around other people can often add a boost to your mood. Aside from work collaboration, hearing about other people’s lives can offer a chance of escapism and a sense of stronger connection with your colleagues.

This all translates into a sense of working for a goal that is greater than just your own performance. Having strong team spirit improves trust, creativity and responsibility, and trusting your team allows you to lean on others to support your weaker areas. If you get used to working alone and not talking to others, then you’re less likely to share ideas when you have them.

Distress and loneliness

Regardless of how many work calls are in your diary, loneliness can creep up on you without you really noticing. Unless you’re super proactive and make a point of having social calls or messages with your work colleagues, then it can be easy to let the week slip by without talking about anything other than your work projects.

It can make talking about how you’re feeling difficult too. In the office, a close colleague might notice if you are acting differently, or you might find it easier to bring it up in conversation during a break. At home, it’s simple to just say ‘I’m fine thanks’, especially if it’s via phone call or email. This can lead up to a build-up of distress over time, resulting in a crisis, rather than a problem that was tackled from the start.

Lack of tangible career progress

Part of career progression and promotion is often the ability to take on responsibilities, problem solve, lead and collaborate with others. Whilst it’s still possible to do those things whilst working at home, it’s a lot harder for others to see you doing it.

In the office, you might have more open discussions around new tasks, and therefore you’ll have the opportunity to put your hand up to try them out. However, when you’re working remotely, these discussions might take place on a private chat, which you might not be included in. Additionally, you may be busy with another task, and miss out on the chance to volunteer or voice your opinion if another co-worker replies more quickly.

Over time, the feeling of missing out can build up and lead to feelings of frustration and depression as you struggle to feel valued in your company. Depression can manifest through bursts of anxiety and anger as well as headaches and back pain, so it’s important to notice how you’re feeling and consider the underlying cause.

To sum up

Remote working can be a gift, but it’s important to acknowledge that it can also present challenges, even for the quietest of employees. Being aware of any potential issues and tackling them is the key to a happy remote working environment.

About the author

Elizabeth Long graduated with a degree in English Language, before travelling to different countries in order to expand her views, and experience different cultures.

She now writes meaningful posts, designed to give readers helpful take-home points that they can act on in their own lives.

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