Telecommuting was already increasing when the COVID-19 pandemic gave it a big, sudden push forward. How does remote work affect individuals and relationships? Let’s take a look.
Remote Work: Pros and Cons
The benefits of remote work are easy to see. Workers have more time and flexibility for daily life, whether that means just being home for deliveries or spending more time with family. The lack of commute also saves time and gas money, can reduce your carbon footprint, and reduces your risk getting involved in a traffic collision.
Work itself often benefits from telecommuting. Fewer interruptions from coworkers or distractions in the office means increased productivity and engagement. It also reduces your exposure to people who may be ill.
Remote work also has different disadvantages compared to traditional commuting. Organizations may have more difficulty onboarding and training new employees. Individuals may struggle to manage their own time with less oversight.
Personal difficulties associated with telecommuting may include loneliness due to isolation and distance from colleagues, especially for remote workers who live alone. Separating work from a personal life is also harder to accomplish.
Loneliness and Working From Home
Loneliness is an obvious drawback of working from home. It can also have some of the worst side effects. One study found that social loneliness can increase health risks as much as alcoholism or smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Loneliness may be twice as harmful to physical and mental health as obesity.
In older adults, social isolation is associated with a 50-percent increase in dementia risk. It can increase depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation.
Try these tips to reduce loneliness:
Early in the week, schedule face-to-face social interactions; plan a safe activity or setting that everyone is comfortable with.
Use videoconferencing software when possible; this not only allows you to see a friendly face, but can minimize miscommunication and thus save time.
Join a digital community, such as a local or national HIMSS group, an online conference, or a hobby-related forum.
Make time for family and friends before you feel too lonely.
Managing Stress While Working Remotely
The challenges of remote work can increase stress levels, which causes adverse effects for 43 percent of U.S. adults. In fact, some estimates say that 75-90 percent of all doctor visits are stress-related. Such conditions include:
High blood pressure
The best way to deal with stress is to identify and address underlying causes. If your work situation is creating stress, try to:
Discuss possible changes with your organization, manager, or teammates.
Look for ways to manage your time more effectively.
Create a workspace with few distractions.
Keep to a morning and evening routine.
Your physical health may affect stress levels. Try to:
Get enough sleep at night.
Make and eat healthy meals.
Learn and practice relaxation techniques, such as meditation or yoga. Accept that there are always things you cannot control.
Practice being assertive, not aggressive or passive-aggressive, in your interactions with others. Assert your feelings, opinions, or beliefs in a respectful way. Set boundaries with housemates, family members, and colleagues.
Working remotely can be a big change for many people, but many of the challenges can be overcome. If you’re a behavioral health or addiction treatment organization, BestNotes EHR has features that leverage low-cost telehealth solutions, such as Zoom or GoToMeeting.
Contact our team to learn more, or schedule a free demo!