What Are the Prolonged
Consequences of Remote Work?
The covid-19 pandemic has done enough damage to our society in terms of physical health, economic turmoils, spiking unemployment rates and so many more. However, the biggest long-term threats that we still need to deal with are connected with anxiety, loneliness, and stress mainly caused by social isolation and newborn remote working trends. We, humans, are social beings and require face-to-face communication and social interaction like no other living being on the planet. Hence our minds are under immense pressure throughout the past several months as we have to keep scaring ourselves away from people.
More and more offices are now switching to a remote working style, which was always believed to be a positive opportunity by scientists. But now we all begin to doubt it. Even though the freedom to choose whether to stay at home or come to the office is the greatest employment benefit, being subject to constant remote working is way more damaging than we have ever imagined. More and more research studies are appearing that emphasize on prolonged negative effects of remote work culture and subsequent stress-inducing factors on employees’ well-being, motivation, and mental health. We will take you through some of the most worrisome effects that remote work is expected to induce in the long run.
One of the biggest burdens that Covid-19 brought with itself is self-isolation. Millions of people were forced by law to remain at home and not leave the house except for grocery shopping and a few other exceptions. Self-isolation significantly affected the mental health of the global population which was evident in the sharp rise in suicide and crime rates, as well. Even though the isolation rules are no longer present in as many regions as it was a few years ago, corporations worldwide still continue to remain remote due to safety measures. While remote working does indeed protect from potential physical harm it damages the workers’ mental wellness a lot. The employees feel lonely, detached from the company, and have lost a sense of belonging within the team.
Stress comes in many forms and always has different expressions in various personalities. However, one of the major stress-inducing factors for remote workers was the transition from the real physical world to an isolated and virtual one. On one hand, companies have successfully replaced aspects that require physical presence with virtual solutions, like meeting facilities, for instance. Now instead of gathering in the meeting rooms, people would simply tap “join a meeting” in ZOOM, Google Meets, or other platforms to join the virtual summit of the employees. These virtual meetings and virtual workplaces, companies, apps, and platforms (often referred to as ‘stay at home companies’) have got thousands of people investing in stay at home stocks as soon as Covid-19 hit. However, despite the popularity of ZOOM, Google Meets, or any other platform, people are missing out on a key problem - none of these solutions can successfully replace the need for face-to-face communication and interaction.
Not being present physically in a workplace leads to psychological uncertainty. People feel confused more often when virtually communicating on tasks. Everything seems vague despite the efforts of the companies to introduce agility and adaptability within their work cultures. In addition to all these, Covid has also evoked high volatility in most employment markets. The workers are not guaranteed that they will keep their jobs if the situation worsens or the company encounters financial problems all of a sudden. As the psychology of a person is incredibly complex, constantly seeking meaning and safety, the current circumstances induce strong anxiety due to the absence of familiarity. Most of the time, employees are not able to plan anything in advance with certainty, not even vacations. They might have to change plans abruptly, change work methodology, environment, platforms, working style and even working hours from time to time.
All the discomfort associated with virtual working is confusing the employers of various corporations. They are not sure which motivational strategy to choose and how to support their clients. The most frequent mistake that many companies make is that they require that all of their workers are present and online during working hours. Many studies suggest that non-stop online presence hurts productivity and performance of the employees due to extreme anxiety levels that it provokes.
Is there a solution?
Well, we know that for some companies it is not an option to welcome the workers in the office due to high Covid infection risks. For those who are able to provide a safe working environment in compliance with Covid regulations, it is recommended to implement a hybrid working style. A hybrid working style means that employees should be able to work from home and/or the office either by schedule or according to their wishes. Furthermore, as vaccines are strengthening the immunity of the individuals in almost every country now, it becomes more realistic to incorporate a hybrid work style or get back to the physical corporate environment once again.
For the companies that have no other choice but to remain remote, it is recommended that they get business coaches or employee care associates who will address the individual needs and concerns of every single worker at the company. This way, the management can identify if any of the employees are struggling with remote working styles and if anything can be done to alleviate the burden.
It is a common mistake when people assume that physical health is more important than mental well-being. These two are closely related to each other and one cannot sustain itself without the other. If a person is mentally unwell it will essentially express itself in physical wellbeing aspects, as well. So, make sure to take care of your body and mind equally.
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