While remote work has many benefits, including increased flexibility and reduced commuting time, expert advice indicates that it can also negatively impact employee wellbeing.
The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the trend toward remote work, with millions of employees worldwide now working from home. However, the relationship between remote work and employee wellbeing is complicated, according to Laura Putnam, Chief Executive Officer of Motion Infusion.
Putnam says one of the main challenges of remote work is the lack of social interaction and connection. Working from home can be isolating, and employees may feel disconnected from their colleagues and the wider organization. Human beings aren't biologically designed to work from home, she adds. This can lead to feelings of loneliness, stress, and depression, which can impact employee wellbeing.
“While the pandemic is not as front and center for us, and we're not having to react to that in the moment as much, and we're in a way returning to normal life, the long-lasting effect it had on our mental health will play out over time,” Putnam told Triple Pundit.
Another challenge of remote work, Putnam adds, is the blurring boundaries between work and personal life. When employees work from home, switching off and disconnecting from work can be difficult, leading to burnout and exhaustion. This can be particularly challenging for employees with caring responsibilities, who may struggle to balance their work and family commitments.
To address these challenges, Putnam says, employers can facilitate virtual social events, such as team lunches or coffee breaks, to help employees stay connected and build relationships. Companies should also provide access to mental health resources, such as counseling or coaching, to help employees manage stress and maintain their wellbeing. Employers can also offer mental health support through openness and transparency about their own mental health struggles.