Last year in 2020, when quarantine mandates and lockdowns began to take place, all of us sat at home during an unprecedented time of eating, watching, working, and sleeping — all in the same place.
Most of us rejoiced at the fact that we would no longer have to make the drive to the office at 8 in the morning with a coffee in hand and yesterday’s work thoughts in overdrive. Now, we could safely perform tasks and drive engagement and contact clients all from the comfort of our rooms.
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While it was a bit of a dreamy escape from the normal hustle and bustle of our 9 to 5s, somewhere along the way, the relief transformed into fatigue and extended stress. It wasn’t fun anymore to wake up, put on a work shirt (with pajamas for bottoms), and sit down until the sky slowly went dark.
Noisy family members and the sounds of our home environment (pets, construction, neighbors, the list goes on) kept us from entering into the focused state of mind that our company offices would bring. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner melted into one another, along with our work tasks, home tasks, and just-staying-alive tasks.
Now, more people are stating that work from home environments have brought on increased pressure and issues with mental health. Why?
Well, for one, Zoom meetings are probably the bane of everyone’s existence. Ever since quarantine began, Zoom experienced an intense surge in the amount of meetings being conducted on its platform.
Online meetings are convenient, no doubt, but many ask, do we really need them? Or more specifically, do we need five meetings a day? Endless meetings can put a huge strain on employees because they take a lot of time and energy; it can often feel like work is meaningless and dragging.
Those working from home can agree that it has completely destroyed all boundaries between work and personal life. Before, it would be easy to feel stressed on the job, only to go home and feel a wave of relaxation hit after you plop down on the couch.
Now, there is no place of relaxation because the home has become your workplace. Many employees are working longer hours, specifically because all work given is now doable online. The accessibility that WFH gives discourages employees from taking breaks and engaging in home life, as well as adds on to the pressure of always having to be online.
This can cause extreme stress and burnout, and can lead employees to engage in a cycle of 24/7 work.
Perhaps the most relatable downside to WFH is the feeling of loneliness. Because the workplace has been taken from us, it becomes hard to physically and emotionally connect with our workmates.
Suddenly, we are alone and stressed in our individual rooms without the fun of complaining to each other in person. Feelings of isolation have dramatically increased since the beginning of the pandemic, and it has led to severe depression and detachment in others.
While we can’t say for sure if WFH is the way to go, we can agree that it does have its pros and cons.
If you’re experiencing loneliness and stress at the (virtual) workplace, you and your team can try a couple solutions to pick up morale and get productivity going. Virtual hangouts, 10-minute breaks, and meeting-free days are great places to start.
Most importantly, remember that you are not alone!