The pandemic unexpectedly re-configured every aspect of our lives, especially the way we work. We all saw and are still witnessing many companies (including mine) explore the remote working option. It has so worked for many that they have settled entirely for remote working.
I earlier subscribed to the thought that working remotely would ease some form of stress, have more time for oneself, but having explored both options, I have had to vet my position after taking some time to retrospect and listen to other people share their remote working experience.
Now, this is not to say working remotely is not in any way productive. On the contrary, working from home or anywhere has made life practically convenient for many, especially having to achieve more, multitask, gain control over your time, less commuting time, personal growth, just to mention a few.
But I have observed that achieving the aforementioned is dependent on an individual, not even the remote job. Working remotely does not automatically guarantee that you will enjoy the benefits, you have to work it out yourself, intentionally.
So, here’s why I believe working remotely can be demanding:
First, there is no doubt about the massive benefits of video conferencing applications like Zoom, Google meet, Microsoft Teams and the likes but I must say they have gotten many exhausted from joining meetings- both productive and non productive. How effortless it is to create meeting links! Wundamail tagged it “overindulging in pointless chit-chat” if care is not taken.
Imagine having an average of 20 meetings in a week where you just dial in and contribute nothing in most of the them, but you just must register your presence? That is certainly not usual back in the office.
We must and should have meetings, but we must be mindful that we are not too engaged in so many that they waste time. Some recommend that as much as possible reduce the number of employees in your e-meetings to increase the chances of making quick decisions.
Second, if care is not taken, you can work over time. For instance, close time is 5pm but you can be on your computer till 8pm without even remembering to have dinner especially for workaholics (I am a victim of this syndrome).
With this, you lose work-life balance and productivity can be adversely affected. So, remote workers must be circumspect about the use of their time during work hours. You should structure your schedule to fit in work and family time for instance. Though, it takes self discipline adhere.
Thirdly, you take more time, planning and efforts to build team spirit and might spend more time trying to achieve a task. Team leads might be able to relate to this point.
To some extent, working remotely has distorted work relationships. Some companies take the step of organizing virtual hangouts to maintain team spirit, though some reportedly could not last as a result of low attendance and unresponsiveness of the team.
So, it can be really exhausting trying to achieve remote team building, but thanks to internet as there are a plethora of articles on tips on growing and maintaining team bonding virtually.
What about computer induced stress? Since we have to be on our computers for about 5–8 hours per day. A research conducted by some group of psychologists discovered that time spent on the computer and our mobile phones can be associated with sleep disturbances for men and serious mental issues for women. It has become expedient that remote workers pay proper attention to their mental health.
This is also different from Computer Stress.
Computer stress is a kind of stress, nervousness and discomfort that you feel when your system refuses to work as expected. I personally experience this type of stress when my system refuses to boot few minutes before a meeting. What about you? Though, remote and ‘office’ workers can find common ground here.
As I round up, a report by a social media management platform Buffer discovered that loneliness is one of the biggest struggle for remote workers because virtual interaction, a product of remote working encourages isolation which can trigger stress, unhealthy habits, insomnia, anxiety and depression.
Social psychologists have discovered that social acceptance is an important intrinsic motivator while Abraham Maslow’s well referenced ‘Hierarchy of Needs’ adds ‘Love and belongingness needs’ as major human needs. This sense of belonging, social ties and friendship can hardly be sustained while working remotely.
Conclusively, Facebook CEO once said “People are more productive working at home than people would have expected. Some people thought that everything was just going to fall apart, and it hasn’t. And a lot of people are actually saying that they’re more productive now.” I agree with this statement, but it doesn’t just happen, remote workers must make extra efforts unlike those on the other side of the spectrum.
Who really does not miss those early morning chatting with colleagues, hugs, handshakes, diverse emotional display before the start of the day’s activity or during breaks?