Is Remote Work Contributing to Mental Health Issues During COVID-19?

Categories: Janitorial, Business and Industry, Coronavirus, PUREClean, Facilities Maintenance

The Pandemic hit the U.S. fast and hard, instantly upending our way of life. Businesses had to quickly develop a plan to send their employees home due to shelter in place orders. Some may not have had the proper equipment set-up. It was a temporary solution that has dragged on for almost a year and it is not over yet.

Everyone is exhausted from the pandemic in general, but employee-specific burnout is on the rise. Working from home tends to blur the lines between work and family life. People struggle with shutting down and may work longer hours than intended. They also may feel pressured to perform at a higher rate and some work unpaid time to inflate their output.

Recent studies suggest working from home might be contributing to a decline in mental health. Social distancing has forced people to isolate themselves from their friends and family members. People who live alone may not see another person for weeks at a time. This leads to feelings of disconnection, detachment, and loneliness.

At first, a lot of people were thrilled to work remotely. However, the excitement faded quickly. One consulting firm, The Martec Group, cautions that prolonged work-from-home assignments could have a major impact on the mental health of many American workers.

Before COVID-19, 62% of employees reported positive mental health, but that has dropped to only 28%. Job satisfaction has fallen from 57% to 32% and motivation has gone from 57% to 36%. Martec found that 42% of workers reported difficulty focusing and increased stress levels.

The study found that very few workers were thriving while working from home. About a quarter struggled with mental health and productivity but still felt satisfied with their employers. A little over a quarter stated they felt discouraged and were critical of their employers, reporting significant declines in job satisfaction and mental health.

36% of remote workers surveyed admitted feeling trapped. This group suffered the biggest decline in mental health as well as overall company satisfaction. They described themselves as miserable at home and anxious to return to normal, missing their interactions with coworkers. Those struggling the most described themselves as extroverts who thrive on social interaction. They are the employees that would benefit most from returning to the office.

Forbes magazine indicates that the challenges of remote work were around before the pandemic. In the 2019 State of Remote Work report produced by Buffer, 49% of remote workers reported that their biggest challenge was wellness related. They stated they could not unplug after work, had difficulty staying motivated, and felt lonely.

Dr. Amy Cirbus, Ph.D., LMHC, LPC, and Manager of Clinical Quality at Talkspace, reports,

“Remote workers often experience symptoms of anxiety and depression at a higher rate than people commuting into traditional office spaces. Specifically, they report feelings of isolation and loneliness and high rates of worry about job performance and stability. Insomnia and sleep disturbance are common, along with increased fatigue, irritation, sadness, and feelings of disconnection. Remote workers report a lack of concentration and focus that can compound and exacerbate these mental health challenges. It can lead to a loss of self-worth and a questioning of one’s abilities. Combined together, these symptoms can have a significant impact on job performance, job satisfaction, and the efficiency of productive work.”

Remote worker's mental health should be one of your top priorities in this new year. Consider reopening responsibly and creating safe, open offices with increased social distancing criteria. Allow workers to stagger their schedules or alternate days in the office.

Creating a safe and disinfected space for employees to return, even part-time, can be extremely beneficial for employees’ overall wellness and productivity. By taking the proper precautions to ensure a clean and safe environment, you might be surprised at how many workers will happily return to the facility.

Before returning to normal office life, you may want to contact a facilities expert to ensure your facility stays safe and healthy. Professionals have access to advanced services, like electrostatic misting, that will quickly remove surface and airborne germs from a room, and they can provide a cleaning professional’s insight into adjusting your daily cleaning activities to reduce contamination.

These are challenging times but Flagship's customizable approach to your facility's needs will help you protect employees and your assets now and into the future. From cleaning and disinfection to one-source Facilities Management, our teams tailor your program to meet your needs and grow with your organization.

Email a facilities expert today and get the help you need to keep your facility healthy and safe, no matter your location.