The global workforce has undergone an enormous shift in the past three years. In late 2019, only 7% of workers with jobs that could be done remotely reported working off-site; as of March 2023, that percentage had increased fivefold, according to the Pew Research Center.
More than a third of individuals with jobs that can be done remotely are now working from home full time, and another 41% of these professionals say they’ve adopted a hybrid schedule, working on-site some days and at home on others.
Remote workers report that telecommuting has a variety of benefits, such as reducing or eliminating their commute time and commute-related stress and saving them money on gas and meal expenses. But working from home can also lead to increased feelings of isolation. In some cases, telecommuting can put professionals at an increased risk of overwork.
Whether they’re working remotely full time or part time, employees should make preserving their well-being a priority. Below are some steps remote workers can take to maintain their mental health.
Remote work pros and cons that impact mental health
While several factors related to working from home may improve workers’ mental health, others have the potential to harm it. The top upsides and downsides of remote work include the following:
The perks of working from home extend far beyond eliminating one’s daily commute. Other benefits associated with working from home are as follows:
- Increased flexibility and independence. Working from home can offer workers enormous flexibility. For example, many professionals who are parents find that working remotely allows them to drive their children to and from school and run errands during the day, as long as their professional obligations are met.
- Fewer distractions from co-workers and increased productivity. Working in an office can involve distractions such as loud phone conversations and unnecessary interruptions. Working off-site can eliminate many of these issues, allowing employees to be more productive during their work hours.
- Improved work-life balance and job satisfaction. Professionals who spend long hours at the office may find it difficult to keep up with both their work and household obligations. Being able to manage certain personal tasks during the day — such as doing laundry, picking up children from after-school programs, and preparing meals — can help improve professionals’ sense of work-life balance.
Working off-site part time or full time can also be associated with certain disadvantages. The most common include the following:
- Fewer face-to-face interactions with colleagues. Humans are social by nature, and fewer in-person interactions with co-workers can cause professionals to feel isolated. More than a third of remote workers reported feeling lonely in a 2022 study by Glassdoor.
- Risk of overwork. Individuals working off-site may find it hard to separate their personal time from their professional time. For example, individuals concerned about making a deadline or following up on a troubling customer complaint may be more apt to log on after hours.
- Disconnection from the workplace. Working from home may eliminate a variety of workplace distractions, but it can also lead professionals to feel disconnected from their employers and uninformed about workplace occurrences. Less connection with the workplace can decrease workers’ motivation to start or complete tasks — and can also make them less visible to supervisors, which can affect their opportunities for advancement.
Tips to stay mentally healthy while working from home
Whether someone has been working from home for years or is about to transition to a new arrangement, these steps can help remote workers maintain their mental well-being.
- Find ways to connect with colleagues. Although working from home reduces opportunities for face-to-face conversations, workers can take steps to preserve their in-office friendships. They can be proactive in finding ways to interact with co-workers, such as by scheduling group lunches, committing to off-hours activities such as hiking or volunteering, or planning remote hangouts such as virtual happy hours.
- Create a dedicated workspace. Working from home leads some people to work longer hours. Creating a designated workspace such as a home office or work nook can help professionals walk away from the job at the end of the workday.
- Stick to a work schedule as much as possible. Work-from-home professionals should create new routines to start and end their workday, such as making a pot of coffee before beginning and going for an after-work walk when the day is over. Turning off work and email notifications at night and on the weekends can contribute to a positive work-life balance.
- Schedule work breaks. Remote workers should schedule breaks throughout the day to stretch their legs, go outside, start a load of laundry, or make a healthy snack. Anything that gets workers away from their desks for a few minutes can be beneficial to their mental health.
- Connect with friends and family. Going out to lunch with a friend or partner can break up the workday. It’s especially important for at-home workers to maintain social connections and get out of the house on evenings and weekends.
- Green up the workspace. Numerous psychological benefits are associated with adding plants to one’s workspace. Plants have been shown to reduce anxiety, promote self-care, and improve feelings of positivity and happiness.
- Change up routines. Psychologists report that social interactions are important for individuals’ sense of well-being. Instead of working consistently from home, remote employees should consider working one day a week at a coffee shop, in a library, or alongside a colleague at their home office.
- Communicate with employers. Remote workers should make sure they understand their employers’ work expectations and mental health promotion programs. For example, they should clarify their employer’s policies on flextime, and whether they need to notify their manager if they have to step out during the day.
Advance your education to pursue remote work positions
Working from home can be enormously advantageous to many employees, but taking steps to maintain their mental well-being while working remotely is paramount. Not only can this help mitigate their stress, decrease their anxiety, and improve their overall sense of wellness, but also it may increase their job satisfaction.
Whether they want to work from home or on-site, professionals interested in continuing their education to advance their careers are likely to find that earning an online bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree can help them progress toward their goal.
Are you ready to take the next brave step in your career? Discover how Maryville University’s online degree programs can provide you with the knowledge and skills you need to transform your professional future.