Working From Home & Mental Health

What if tomorrow morning you could sleep in, forego the business casual attire, skip the morning commute, not worry about packing a lunch and still go to work? Working from home (WFH) does sound like an attractive option, and with more employees requesting this opportunity (Nolan, 2016) it has become more popular in the recent years.

Considering that “in 2008 11.2% of employees worked at home” and “more than 1 in 5 university-graduate employees work at home” (Statistics Canada, 2010), swapping the work office for the home office is no longer a rarity.

The Microsoft survey Working Without Walls found the following to be among the top ten benefits of working from home:

  • Greater productivity
  • Work/home balance
  • More time with family
  • Less stressful environment
  • Eliminate long commute

The above reads like a recipe for a great workday that supports our mental health. Yet, working from home is not without drawbacks.

A research study by Golden (2011) found that WFH increased physical and mental exhaustion in individuals who were experiencing difficulties with managing their work-life balance.  In addition to this, those who WFH tend to work longer than their peers who work at the office (Alsop, 2013).

Working from home may not be suitable for everyone. The meshing of work and personal life may create stress and conflict. If you choose to stay at home, consider some of the tips below that support mental wellness when WFH:

1. Designated Workspace: If possible, create a home office or work space. Ensure you have a proper desk and chair to work at just like you would at your work office, and minimize distractions such as television (check out previous posts on ergonomics). When you walk into this space the message should be clear: “I am at work”. At the end of the day when you leave your  work space, it will help to keep work separate from your personal life as you go about it in your home.

2. Pre-Work Routine: If you were to go to work at the office you would have the same routine everyday that would help get you into the zone: wakeup, shower, get dressed, eat breakfast, drive to work, etc. There is no need to put on your suit if you are WFH but do keep up a routine that will put you into work mode: change out of your PJs, brush your teeth, and fulfill any other morning activities that you would do if you were going into work.

3. Keep Track of Time: There are markers of time at the office that are not present at home. Everyone arrives and departs at roughly the same time, and you don’t need to check your watch to know that it’s lunchtime. Keep a logbook of how many hours you have worked and schedule breaks (you may even need to set some alarms to make sure you don’t go overtime).

 Do you prefer working from home over working from the office? How do you support your mental wellness and productivity when working from home?

 

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Photo Credit: http://promptproofing.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/o-WORK-FROM-HOME-facebook.jpg

References

Golden, T. D. (2011). Altering the effects of work and family conflict on exhaustion: Telework during traditional and nontraditional work hours. Journal of Business Pscyhology. 27(3), 255-269. doi: 10.1007/s10869-011-9247-0

Nolan, C. (2016). These 25 companies want you to work from home. Retrieved from https://www.thestreet.com/story/13236467/1/these-25-companies-want-you-to-work-from-home.html

Turcotte, M. (2010). Working at home: An update. Component of Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 11-008-X. Retrieved from http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/11-008-x/2011001/article/11366-eng.pdf