The rise of flexi-hours and remote working intensified during the pandemic. The change was quick and dramatic; we had to adapt, and we did, out of necessity. But now, after the pandemic has ended, remote work and flexible hours have become less of a temporary solution and more of a new normal.
Office norms are transforming faster than we could have anticipated, so it’s important to understand the potential mental health implications. Adaptability strategies that have emerged.
The upside of flexi-hours and remote working
For many, remote working and flexi-hours have come as a liberating development. Breaking away from rigid 9-to-5 schedules, long commutes, and sterile office environments. The people that fall into this category have discovered newfound autonomy. They have harnessed the benefits of tailoring their work schedules around personal commitments and optimising their productivity during their peak performance hours.
For many, this freedom has enhanced work-life balance, leading to reduced stress levels and overall improved mental health. After all, working in your pyjamas, having lunch with your family, or going for a mid-afternoon run aren’t typically associated with traditional work schedules.
The downsides: Uncertainty & isolation
On the other hand, only some people are wired for this autonomous work style. If you crave routine, social interaction, and a clear separation between your professional and personal life, the transition may have posed significant challenges.
The lack of structured office hours and physical boundaries between work and home can lead to a pervasive sense of uncertainty. This, combined with the potential loneliness of remote working, can heighten feelings of anxiety and stress. As a result, maintaining productivity can be challenging for some.
Finding what works for you
With working from home (at least some of the time) being the new norm, it’s important that you think carefully about the long-term set-up of your home workspace and how to make your work life—at home and in the office—work for you.
Here’s how you can do that:
Define your workspace:
Have a dedicated space that you can ‘leave’ at the end of your workday.
Clear communication with your family, housemates, and even yourself about your work hours can help maintain a healthy work life balance.
Incorporate regular breaks, physical activity, and leisure time into your schedule.
Engage with colleagues beyond work conversations. Virtual coffee breaks or social chats can help combat feelings of isolation.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s important to reach out to a mental health professional.
The surge in flexi-hours and remote working has not been uniform in its impact on mental health. It has brought liberating benefits for some and has been a cause of anxiety and stress for others. In this new working landscape, knowing your workstyle and adapting your approach is essential to maintain productivity and protect your mental health.
It’s okay to need help. And it’s okay to seek it if you are struggling with the new work environments we find ourselves in. For some, there is no choice in the way they work and your therapist can help you navigate your work life so you can live a truly fulfilled and balanced life no matter what your work environment.