Past and recent statistics show that the majority of respondents in surveys on remote work say it increases their happiness and creates less stress. Interestingly, they feel more trusted and less likely to leave their employer. But, of course, these results come from a survey before the pandemic hit. Suddenly, in early 2020 people who dreamed of working from home were forced to embrace remote work, and not everyone found working from home (WFH) happy and productive.
Several factors lead to unhappiness when WFH. These include feelings of isolation, disrupting the sense of belonging, blurred lines, and a loss of routine.
Five signs can indicate working from home burnout. These include:
- Procrastination with getting the day started
- Trouble communicating with people at work
- Not getting consistent client feedback
- Loneliness and a sense of monotony
- A sense of disconnectedness
Here is how working from home is making some of us more unhappy:
1. Feeling Lonely and Isolated
Besides the benefits of saving money and flexibility, remote work can also mean a total lack of social interaction. Moreover, working from home may mean that some people don’t speak to anyone the whole day, and studies show that this lack of interaction can affect our physical and mental health. According to researchers, when we interact with others, we feel calmer.
Several studies show that long-term isolation and loneliness affect our long-term happiness as much as the effects of income, genetics, and geographical regions.
2. Sense of Detachment
Researchers have found that people who stop feeling like they belong tend to lose their purpose and grounding. In addition, the social isolation caused by the pandemic increased psychological distress and other disorders, disrupting people’s sense of well-being and affecting their health.
Despite Zoom meetings, physical separation affects people because they stop feeling like they belong in a team or form part of a project. Some of the drawbacks of Zoom meetings are people with cameras turned off, meetings that end up getting out of control, or where some people never get to have their say. In addition, zoom fatigue can occur after meeting people online instead of face-to-face for extended periods.
When people start feeling detached, their stress levels increase, and their motivation decreases.
3. Loss of Routine and Structure
When most of us work at the office, routine and structure define our lives. However, for some, disrupting their routine can lead to feeling overwhelmed, turning their life chaotic.
What can happen is that they can deviate from their usual routine, taking break times whenever they feel like it, constantly visiting the fridge, sleeping in, and exercising less.
Therefore, rituals and boundaries are essential for people needing to work from home. The routine does not need to follow the office routine closely but should include a structure that makes it easier to schedule getting things done. One of the great things about working from home is that people can organize their work time around personal obligations and their best productive times.
4. Blurred Work and Life Lines
Another thing that often causes unhappiness when working from home is the difficulty separating work from life. When these lines blur, people tend to lose the clarity they had in their routine, whether this means listening to the news on the way to work or having a demarcated area to work, and a clear work and home line makes it easier to get things done.
A work schedule should remain consistent to help people WFH transition between the lines of their personal and professional lives.
5. Loss of Fun
People miss the camaraderie of catching up with friends during a lunch break, after-dinner meals, or during work at the vending/water/coffee machine. Unfortunately, it seems that calling a work friend while feeling isolated and in pajamas cannot replace the fun of the office.
However, for those where remote work has become the norm, replacing that sense of fun requires some imagination.
Working from home may make most people unhappy, but one recent finding says it increases employee happiness by 20%. Whatever the case, for those who have no option of going back to the office, there are several things that they can do to take advantage of working from home without feeling unhappy.
Looking on the optimistic side, working from home saves time and money since there is no daily commute. When we spend that time and money on more fulfilling pastimes, it can prove especially rewarding.
Finally, accepting that working from home makes people some of us unhappy is more straightforward than constantly trying to avoid these feelings. According to psychologists, we can’t always be happy, and embracing all our emotions is good because it becomes agonizing when we can’t meet a standard in our minds.
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