Is working from home all that it is cut out to be?
Rory Lawlor, our Senior Recruitment Consultant wrote about his experience of working from home as well as the general advantages and disadvantages regarding remote working as well.
What is stress?
The relationship between stress and disease is an interactional one. Many health experts firmly believe that the ability to handle stress is the single most important asset a person can have in combating illness. Stress is defined as any force that puts a psychological pressure or physical factor beyond its range of stability, producing a strain within an individual.
Stress depends on how individuals deal with it, as people react to stress in different physical ways. Immediate physiological responses do not matter if they do not occur often. Some stress is good for us, as it can help in the attainment of better results. Stress can act as a motivator and is an important force in pushing society and individuals towards higher levels of attainment and excellence. Many workers strive towards excellence whether through targets, examinations, or extra activities. As stress increases, so too, does our performance. There is a clear difference between stress and pressure. Pressure is both a tolerable and manageable condition associated with productive coping. When under pressure an individual is capable of recognising what is causing the pressure. Stress on the other hand is viewed as a regressive and counter-productive condition. This can induce extreme anxiety and is characterised by negative and maladaptive coping. Pressures internal to an individual can enhance performance and improve health. Pressures that go beyond an individual’s capability may see an individual sink and result in a stressful and dangerous situation.
Too much stress or high levels of it over long periods can be detrimental to both body and mind. Stress is caused by pressures of various kinds. These pressures are referred to as “stressors''. They take many forms and exist in all aspects of life. They are events or experiences that put pressure or strain on the body or mind. Both physical and mental reactions to these stressors are experienced as stress.
The company culture change following Covid-19
A major source of stress for employees has been the major changes that have taken place in recent times. With the impact of change, employees are required to make a variety of modifications to their own personal and professional lives.
These changes involve dealing with working from home, less social interaction, alcohol, and changes in work life balance and this has certainly had its effects on certain employees.
The prospect of change is normally a source of anxiety, and the cumulative effect of so many changes affecting the workforce, could have a negative impact on the morale of employees.
Covid-19 has changed ways of working. There has been a swift change to remote working in the last number of months across multiple sectors. For a lot of companies this has put their culture in the spotlight. With employees working from home, they may never return to the office in the way they once knew it.
Working from home
Most workers in Ireland have had to make alterations to their working life. Individuals are now having to combine work responsibilities with home responsibilities. For some workers they are happy to be working from home as they do not have to worry about the dreaded daily commute to the office. On the other hand, certain individuals can get stressed out from working remotely has they do not have the same social interaction as they would have had before.
It is a difficult time for individuals starting new jobs in certain sectors as they are unable to get the support, training, and guidance which they would have received before. Getting settled into a team can take time and it is difficult to build a relationship over video calls. If you are new to a team and working remotely it could be a good idea to invite members of your team for a virtual coffee. This is a good way to find out about their role and it will help an individual settle in.
The current situation of working remotely will continue in certain sectors and it is likely to remain that way for the foreseeable future. A lot of companies have had to make changes to their culture and implement a working from home model. For certain individuals they are a lot more productive working from home as they get a lot more done as they do not have to worry about the daily commute. Another benefit from working home is that it eliminates distractions, when working in the office you could get distracted by co-workers, friends, or tasks.
Working from home has certainly proven difficult for parents with young children as they now must juggle two jobs under their roof. It can prove to be an incredibly stressful time for parents. A negative from working from home in certain industries is exhaustion. Certain employees constantly check e-mails or complete tasks throughout the day and could end up suffering from burnout.
Advantages of working from home:
- No commuting
- Save money
- Flexible schedule
- No office distraction
Disadvantages of working from home:
- Difficult sticking to a plan
- Lack of social interaction
- Lose out on support
- Not set-up the same as you would be in the office
When does stress become burnout?
Burnout is a state of mind and is strongly associated with the helping professions. Burnout is the painful realisation that they no longer can help people in need, they have nothing left to give.
Burnout is viewed as something that sneaks up on individuals and erodes their spirit. Unfortunately, burnout most often impacts on those individuals who give everything of themselves. At the start of their careers they would have been the individuals high on both idealism and enthusiasm. Tragically, it is often the best people who suffer most. Burnout has detrimental psychological effects and appears to be a major factor in low morale, absenteeism, lateness, and high turnover of staff. In addition, it is also a very costly phenomenon, as individuals often are forced to leave their jobs, which has implications for recruitment and training. The solution to avoiding burnout, is not to push oneself to such a threshold. This involves learning how to cope positively with stressful situations. In this sense, a proper balance must be struck between work and outside activities.
Within the work environment, the most common stressors responsible for promoting burnout include role conflict and role ambiguity. Individuals can find their role in an organisation both comfortable and pleasing or on the other hand a source of stress and conflict.
Coping with stress
During the current pandemic, a lot of employees are having to cope with stress as there has been such a change to their lives.
One of the best solutions for coping with stress is to step away from what you are currently doing, this is one of the fastest ways to bring your stress levels down.
Exercise is one form that certainly enables individuals to clear their minds. When working from home, if you stay inside doing the same thing constantly you will begin to get stressed.
Support from colleagues can be a major help to people suffering stress. As these conversations can ease a person’s nerves. By aiding someone who is constantly “Stressed Out” could reassure that individual.
The exodus from office to home
A lot of sectors have had to make changes not only to their culture but also how to manage employees with the switch to working from home. A lot of employees need more support and guidance working home on an ongoing basis, these individuals might not be getting the same training as they would have had before.
Certain employees have ended up getting stressed from working at home due to a lack of structure, this could be down to someone sleeping later, social media, or not having the office environment. If workers put the right plans in place, they can become very productive. One of the main things that relieves workers of stress is having a schedule. By setting out a clear goal and plan for a day can relive individuals of stress and work overload.
Another thing to keep stress levels to a minimum when working from home is setting yourself boundaries. This will clear the mind of stress. How one should do this is by allocating lunch time, having breaks, and keeping in touch with colleagues. In the office speaking with colleagues gives the mind a chance to recharge and it is important to give it those breaks.
I personally have found working from home very productive. From the outset, I designated a workplace for myself to make it like my work environment and this helped me adjust to working from home. I have made sure over the course of the pandemic to keep myself active, whether it be going for a walk, swim, run, or cycle and I have felt that has led to a clear mindset. One thing I feel that has been particularly important for myself is that I keep my alarm to the same as working in the office. I feel individuals could get stressed if they just roll out of bed and jump on a meeting.
I highlighted the nature of stress and burnout with specific reference to working from home. A rapidly changing physical technological environment is putting strains on employees. In confronting stress, it is essential for employees to have support systems and be able to adopt positive coping strategies. This would result in each employee being more efficient and productive.
In addressing the needs of the modern workplace, a more thorough approach to managing home based employees will have to be undertaken. It would help if training linked to career development was properly resourced which could have a major role to play in equipping employees to cope with the change.
The issue of major cultural change and the demands imposed upon the workforce was demonstrated. Going forward delivery of a quality work program will need more flexibility. This may be achieved only through a well thought out system. Remote working will work if there is a degree of trust and if the system is effectively managed. Ultimately what we are looking for is to at least have the same quality of work at home as is done in the office.
If you’re looking for a change in the job and work front, head over to our jobs page and browse for a suitable position. Majority of the companies are still offering the remote option going forward so it’s worth having a chat if you find something that fits. You can email me on firstname.lastname@example.org.