Though the chaos we experienced between 2020 to 2021 may be starting to recede into the folds of repressed trauma, plenty of us are still feeling the effects of the world-wide experiment with home working forced upon us by the pandemic. Many businesses have chosen to go fully online as a result, meaning that thousands of employees have not experienced office-based work since February 2020.
Such an extended period of this new normal might have lulled many of us into thinking we’ve successfully adapted. But have we? Now that covid’s uncompromising grip has loosened somewhat and we have the luxury of accepting or rejecting work from home life, here are five signs to look out for that remote work simply is not for you.
1. You struggle with productivity
As seductive as a lifestyle that allows us to hammer away at our laptops from bed every day can be, it’s no secret that working from the comfort of your own home is not always conducive to productivity. When that report we’ve been putting off is competing with the fridge, the TV and the very real option of a spontaneous nap, it’s no wonder many of us struggle to get our best work done when working from home.
An office environment tends to help jolt us into work-mode in a way that working from a bedroom or kitchen simply does not. Even for those lucky enough to have an at-home study, often just being around others who are working too inspires the productivity and focus that eludes us when alone. And we all know that a lack of productivity only leads to increased stress and workloads spiralling out of control further down the line.
2. You find yourself working around the clock
At the other end of the spectrum is the problem of overworking. Remote working means it can be difficult to differentiate between work time and down time when it all takes place in the same space. A lack of a clear work/life boundary in the form of a physical office can make it hard to leave work behind. Resisting the urge to continue preparation for the next day’s big meeting until late into the night is hard enough when you can walk away and get on a train home; when your living room is your office what chance have you got?
We live in a society that is addicted to labour, and for many of us, blurring the dividing line between work and leisure is simply too detrimental to our wellbeing to be maintained. Recognising this is a crucial step in putting our mental health first.
3. You feel lonely
An effect of homeworking that was discussed extensively at the start of the pandemic but has faded out of the limelight in the last year is the issue of pure and simple loneliness. Months on end of having only your laptop for company during the working day can be emotionally draining, and in post-covid times all those zoom meetings can make real-world interactions feel challenging in a way they did not before.
Our co-workers do not have to be our best friends to give our lives social texture and there is no shame in missing even the most basic of water-cooler interactions that take place in the office. For most of us, a vital part of our social lives takes place at work and the sudden absence of this in 2020 was a shock thousands are still processing. Loneliness can take a serious toll on our mental health and if it is being generated in part by your working life, addressing this should be at the top of your to-do list.
4. You feel detached
A shortage of human interaction might sound like a dream for some, but for others it can result in a very real sense of detachment. People tend to give us the momentum we need to get through the day and without the unexpected encounters that office life brings, it’s all too easy to start feeling flat. If a lack of real-world substance is starting to affect you, you might want to ask yourself if a more sociable work life might just help solve the problem.
5. You’re noticing negative physical effects
In the haze of productivity and emotional concerns, it can be easy to forget about the effects on our bodily wellbeing that remote work can produce. It’s no secret that staying in the same spot all day is likely to result in low energy and a sense of sluggishness. Plus, it takes an almost superhuman level of discipline to resist the ‘come hither’ calls of your average household’s snack cupboard.
The commute is an important source of consistent exercise, and cutting it out of our daily routine, while it can feel pretty idyllic for a time, can have less than desired consequences on physical fitness. So if you’re not feeling as strong and healthy as you would like, chances are working from home could be at least in part to blame.
To sum it all up
When it comes to working life, it’s all too easy to convince yourself that a set-up favoured by many is the right one for you. But the reality is that everybody is different. One person’s working paradise might well be your hell, and that’s ok! So if you’ve just found yourself reading your 100th listicle on how to make working from home work for you, it might be time to give up the fight and start looking for alternatives (the better to enjoy working life while you can before the next pandemic rolls around!).
This article was written by the Tutor House content team.