In 2020, the world saw that there are many benefits to working from home, especially for people who live with a chronic condition, as discussed by Dominga Noe in June of last year. As we wrap up a year spent in quarantine, Destiny Lomonte, takes a look at how the move to work from home has been beneficial to the mental health of many in our community.
It’s no surprise that work and mental health are intertwined. We all know how work can cause stress and exacerbate mental health conditions, but what we have all learned this year is how it can positively affect one’s mental well-being.I reached out to our community and asked their viewpoint on how working from home has affected them and was surprised to find most (85%!) of the answers I received were all positive.
One of the leading stress factors for those with chronic medical conditions in the workplace is the lack of flexibility when it comes to time off. As we all know these conditions are unpredictable and the workplace is far from accommodating when it comes to uncertainty. Now that people are working from home, they are (mostly) making their own schedules, thus comes the flexibility for doctor appointments, breaks, and most importantly, self-care.
Another benefit from remote working is the ability to spend more time with family. The constant pull that people feel between time spent with family and time spent at work absolutely takes a toll on one’s mental-health and remote working has allowed these two priorities to co-exist more peacefully.
Working from home has also decreased the anxiety and time of the commute, and, for some people, a few work-related financial obligations. The pandemic has hit many people financially, but some are finding they have been able to save costs related to childcare, gas, and tolls since working remotely.
Sleep is another immense factor in our mental health and since working from home, most are finding they have time throughout the day to complete their daily chores, responsibilities, and errands, therefore they have been able to go to sleep earlier, leaving them rested and recharged for the next day’s agenda.
Productivity has also been proven to be stronger since working from home. Remote working has eliminated distractions such as interruptions from colleagues, and office politics which has provided a quieter, comfortable, and more personalized work environment.
However, as much positive that has come out of working from home there have been some serious downsides as well. The biggest being isolation. For many, the workplace was one of their main ways to socialize. When you have a chronic medical condition, fatigue plays a large role in your day to day life. Often, there is not much energy leftover to go from work AND then go to a social event. Regularly, co-workers become those close friends and working from home has taken that away, which is when the isolation sets in.
Thankfully, developers have made strides in combatting the isolation of working from home with the developments of apps that allow colleagues to connect, even if just for an end of work water-cooler chat. These apps have been an emotional life raft as we navigate work and life under lockdown.
As this past year has unfolded, I have seen the world struggle, then learn, and ultimately, rise above all of these obstacles that working from home had originally created. From a mental health standpoint, working from home should be encouraged as the benefits clearly outweigh the drawbacks.
Destiny Lomonte is a mental health professional and avid animal lover who lives in Massachusetts. She says: “VEDS is a part of me, but not what defines me.”