Not too long ago, working from home was a highly sought-after perk only offered to a select group of people. However, COVID-19 has pushed the workforce out of the office and into personal residences on a massive scale.
As a result, workers are not disconnecting at the end of the “workday” because the lines are so blurred now. According to experts, it is doing more damage than you would think.
This dramatic culture shift has been met with unexpected issues and unique challenges. As more employees continue to work from home, it seems employers are expecting employees to be available 24/7.
Disconnecting is more complicated than ever
Because the office may now be in your living room, it can be difficult to fully disconnect from work when you hear an email come through. The prevalence and convenience of the work and home environment being combined have started to wear on employees.
With the increasingly blurred line between work and home life, nearly five out of ten workers say they are unhappy with the current balance. The difficulty of separating work from home life is wearing on our mental health, which has caused some lawmakers to notice.
In the past, we have seen an increasing rise in the number of times we check work emails on our phones while at home. According to a July 2019 survey, 43% of employees admitted to checking their work email frequently while not at work. Moving our offices into our homes has only exacerbated this trend.
Government intervention in Europe
Governments overseas are recognizing the negative influence the work-life balance has on our mental health. According to the Financial Times, German lawmakers have proposed new laws to regulate times and expectations revolving around remote work. Similarly, Greece, Spain, and Ireland are considering adding additional labor laws to protect remote employees’ time.
A recent Associated Press article detailed the struggles and adverse side effects many workers face from their remote work environment. Alex Aguis Saliba, a member of the European Parliament, told the AP, “After months of teleworking, many workers are now suffering from negative side effects such as isolation, fatigue, depression, burnout, muscular or eye illnesses.” He continued by saying, “the pressure to always be reachable, always available, is mounting.”
The disparity between employers and employees
Further evidence from an IBM study found a wide gap between employers’ and employees’ beliefs regarding employee well-being. The study found that 80% of managers felt they were doing a good job supporting the emotional and physical health of their employees. However, only 46% of workers surveyed believed their companies were adequately supporting their well-being.
In addition to employee well-being, a recent study by Stoneside found that 27% of remote workers say they feel less connected to their coworkers, and nearly half, 47.6% say remote work has made collaboration with coworkers harder.
While European countries are starting to take steps towards protecting employee rights, it seems the United States has yet to follow suit. In a country where most employees refuse to use all of their vacation time each year, American’s may be used to a stress-induced personal life.
Human interaction is necessary to advance as a civilization
We recently wrote an article about the generation that benefits the most from working in an office. While working from home offers certain perks, it has created a whole host of unintended consequences ranging from productivity slowdowns and mental health concerns.
Remote work has opened doors for technology to advance faster than anyone anticipated. However, the human social interaction we desire is not being fulfilled by on-screen Zoom meetings. Teleworking definitely has a place in this world, and hopefully, we can find the proper balance in the near future.