Last month, I was speaking with a psychiatrist friend and she made a few revelations that took me by a fair bit of surprise. Over the last few months, the number of people seeking psychiatric support because of stress emanating from “Work From Home” has been on an upswing.
How could there be stress working from home, one may ask? Well, it’s actually the culmination of multiple factors melding together to wreak havoc.
One, with WFH, the employers are expecting their employees to be flexible about working till much later than usual. With no commuting involved, employees have more time available at their hands, and employers are taking it as their given right to make additional work-demands on them. Practically, there has ceased to be a hard-stop to the “normal working hours” for those working from home. The employers are sparing no chances to make demands on the employees till late in the evenings, and that’s creeping into the personal time of employees.
Next factor. Not all employees may necessarily have the privilege of having an environment at home that’s conducive for performing official tasks. For those residing in small units or belonging to joint families, a dedicated personal space that’s also distraction & noise proof may prove to be a far cry. Having to take business calls from a cramped home environment replete with background noises can make most people nervous. Imagine how embarrassing it can get when you’re on a video call with a larger group and you are unable to block out the clanking sound of the kitchen utensils.
Another factor. A total loss of the physicality associated with dressing up for work every day and getting to the workplace which by default also serves as one’s professional ecosystem. There are some people who have never been able to recalibrate themselves to work from home. For this category of people, dressing up daily for their workplace and driving down to be in the midst of their professional community is an indispensable element of life. These people find immense value in personal interaction with their colleagues, working together towards common purposes, sharing views & opinions on topics of mutual interest, deliberating upon shared situations & challenges, gossiping on workplace trivia over a coffee, after-work bashes, and much more. Working from home makes them feel a deep sense of professional unfulfillment.
Finally, it’s the mental fatigue of the robotic life model that WFH casts employees into. A life with negligible variations, more obligations and less options causes enough surfeit from being in the same environment just all the time. Monotony is certainly nauseating.
Unfortunately, no one knows for how long more the COVID menace will continue to force us into WFH. What is certainly required is a “Work From Home Policy” that takes into account the finer nuances of it, while also ensuring that employees are able to be just as productive as they would have been working out of a physical office environment. “Work From Home” has never been resorted to before on such a mass scale globally, and hence it is only right to have a policy in place that takes into consideration the critical elements of both the employers and employees.