Until the pandemic hit us, work from home was considered the easiest option to work as one can work and spend time with loved ones easily. Initially, many have planned to spend more time with their families and engage themselves with new hobbies during lockdown. However, after a few months, most of them felt stressed due to unending video conferences and lack of gap in personal and professional times. These have impacted people psychologically and spending more time working can disturb the work-life balance. This can lead to increase in stress and chances of panic attacks during work. However, working from home has led to loneliness and isolation in people, which in turn can lead to depression and anxiety. Some people feel they are missing the social connection and interaction with their colleagues. It will adversely affect the physical and mental health of the employees.
Psychological effect on work from home
Lockdown due to the coronavirus health crisis has left psychological effects on people working from home. It has hampered personal space and increased stress level in people who were already suffering from stress and loneliness, psychologist Dr. R.V. Shinde said. People are finding it challenging to work in a surrounding that includes the elderly and children who are not aware of this idea of working from home. The resultant disturbance and interference is affecting the work and making people work longer and more anxious.
Work from home has also increased loneliness and isolation as people at home are sitting alone and working and have no one to talk to, whereas in offices, they can enjoy quick words and a coffee break too. This relieved a lot of stress caused by small issues in life and reduced the feeling of being left alone. Anxiety and pressure also increased as deadlines of work and household chores competed for people’s attention. Many working women and bachelors are facing the problem of managing multiple works at the same time as well as the guilt of not being able to fulfil them. This can lead to mental health conditions like depression and panic attacks.
Burnout syndrome is a reality
Doctors are also reporting burnout syndrome in people – according to the World Health Organization (WHO), burnout syndrome is a chronic workplace stress, characterized by feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion; increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job; and reduced professional efficacy.
Fear of losing jobs has an adverse effect on people as employees: Around 72% of people believe that the economic crisis will continue till year end and 26% believe the crisis will continue further. This has built up fear of being jobless and fear of no increment or incentives. However, according to Willis Towers Watson COVID-19 India Readiness Survey 2020, 77% of companies have indicated that there will be no salary cuts and 33% companies have indicated that appraisal of the employee will happen as planned. Companies like BharatPe, Flipkart and Myntra are working on keeping their employees happy and satisfied by increasing their annual appraisals and no salary cut.
Health impact and help
Working for more hours than usual has increased during this lockdown which has resulted in people to focus less on their health and lifestyle. People have reported eating habits have gone topsy-turvy – sometimes she eats two meals a day, sometimes four times a day. She has stopped her daily walk and has put on four kg since the lockdown. She has trouble sleeping at night and has been sleeping for less than four hours. People sitting continuously for work has affected their health and increased body related issues like back pain, leg pain, numbness in hand and feet and headaches. Diet and exercise are on stake while working from home. However, many organisations are taking note. Companies are also asking their employees to meditate and exercise daily. Companies are also focusing on having a happy zoom call for some time to reduce stress. A digital marketing firm in Hyderabad is asking employees to meditate daily and practice taking breaks when needed. It is also asking them to take an off day to relieve their stress.
Employees can maintain their physical and psychological health, and their productivity in work:
- Choose a comfortable and healthy workplace
- Take a ‘Me Time’
- Keep dedicated and same place for work
- Dress appropriately for work
- Communication is the key – talk to fellow employees and seniors as and when needed