Being a millennial, I have watched the workforce continuously grow and adapt. Policies have changed, workplace cultures have shifted, and employee values pertaining to certain benefits and perks provided by their prospective companies have transformed. We have the motivation to thrive in our careers, while also understanding our need for a healthy work-life balance.
Due to this progression in the workplace, many companies provide the option to work from home a certain amount of days per week, while others have made positions that are entirely remote. Also, there are many independent contractors, entrepreneurs, and business owners that have taken advantage of technology, working directly from their phone, tablet, or laptop. Remote work can be extremely beneficial for mental health purposes. Some of these benefits include:
- Decreasing the stress and/or duration of the daily commute
- Being able to multi-task, i.e. completing household chores simultaneously, leaving more time for after work or weekend activities, such as picking up the children, spending time with family, or attending social events
- Scheduling personal appointments when needed, as opposed to neglecting to do so or having to burn a day of PTO
- Being in the comfort of your home, while still working, on days that you are not feeling so well – mentally or physically
- Feeling trusted, motivated, and autonomous
The above contains just a few examples of the benefits of working remotely. I have held remote positions and can personally attest. With all of those in mind, one might be intrigued about the option to work from home. I caution this individual to also evaluate and prepare for some of the downfalls, including:
- Distractibility/lack of concentration
- Increase in stress levels to “prove” assignment completion, due to feeling “guilty” for working at home
- Loss of purpose or motivation
- Difficulty setting boundaries between work and personal life
I currently have a few patients, where we are working on these exact issues. They love working remotely, but have also been impacted by the negative aspects of this type of work. Most are experiencing exacerbated symptoms of anxiety and depression. In all cases, we are working on developing their own unique structure to enjoy the perks of working remotely, but also protect against the risks. Some possible solutions include:
- Creating a home office or space in the house, as to still feel engaged in work, while separating personal and work life
- Taking appropriate breaks during the day, just as if you were in the office
- Eating a well-balanced diet to maintain appropriate energy levels and overall mood
- Going to a co-working space or coffee shop at least a couple times per week to decrease isolation and increase socialization
- Setting boundaries during work hours in the home, i.e. with family members, personal phone calls, taking care of animals, multi-tasking, and overall daily work hours
The workforce is progressing with us! Remote work is becoming more popular. Just ensure that like with anything else you prepare to combat its challenges. Remember, the benefits of working remotely should not take precedence over your mental health. If your mental health deteriorates, then are there really any true benefits anymore?
If you or anyone else you know is struggling to manage any form of work-life balance and feel like you need support, please feel free to get in touch! I’d love to help!
Chelsea Peraino Smoots MBA LMSW, is a Clinical Psychotherapist & Owner of psy-che PLLC. She has a background in social work and is a licensed psychotherapist. She offers a variety one-on-one therapy and life-coaching options.
She is also a member of the PatchWork Collective. You can find out more on her website.