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The reality of working from home

Main image 23 August, 2019

For many people, working from home is the dream – no stressful commute and no distracting colleagues, instead you can enjoy flexible hours and as many cups of tea as you like! However, whilst in theory working from home can sound like the ideal option, for some the reality comes with many drawbacks. Read on to find out what they are and how to overcome them.

A recent revealing study by the Pennsylvania State University compared stress levels between people working from home and those in the office, and found homeworkers had the highest levels of the stress hormone, cortisol.

There are various potential reasons for this; the first is the commonly reported issue of the blurring of the boundaries between one’s personal life and work life. If you work from home, you’re effectively always in your work environment. Couple this with the fact that today, nearly everyone has a mobile phone, and workers increasingly feel as though they are expected to be contactable 24/7, and it’s no wonder people report feeling like they’re always on call.

The second potential stress point is that working from home of course comes with its own distractions – whether it’s other family members going about their day-to-day life, or housework piling up.

Finally, many homeworkers report feelings of isolation. It’s not merely a case of missing out on the office banter – being in a separate location can make it more difficult for workers to reach out and ask for help if they’re struggling with their workload for example.

Despite these potential issues, working from home can of course be a positive experience for many. If you’re an employer thinking of offering remote working as an option, take a look at our top tips to help make working from home work for your team:

  • Do not disturb: When working from home, explain to other family members when you need to be in ‘work mode’ and ask them not to disturb you.

  • Separate space: Set aside a separate space to work. If you don’t have room for a home office, ensure you at least have a dedicated deskspace to help create a distinction between your work life and home life.
  • Keep in touch: Keep in regular contact with colleagues via phone, email, and video calls to avoid feelings of isolation. And remember, don’t be afraid to speak up if you need help.
  • The human touch: If the lack of human contact is a major issue for you, look into local co-working spaces where you can meet and interact with other remote workers.
  • Clock in and out: If you’re finding it hard to switch off from work, set yourself a clear start time and finish time, and don’t be tempted to check your work emails after clocking off.

  • Take a break: Even if you’re working from home in your pyjamas with a cup of tea, you’re still working, so you still deserve a break.

If you’d like further information on how to boost the health of your team, whether they work from home or the office, get in touch with YourGP’s Occupational Health specialists on 0131 225 5656 or email occhealth@your.gp.

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