Commentary & Opinion

Is work from home not all it’s cracked up to be?

Jon Hyman

06 April 2021

Three weeks ago I returned to the office. That return matched my start date at Wickens Herzer Panza. I decided that it’d be difficult, if not impossible, to learn a new firm and its systems, and build camaraderie and teamwork with my new co-workers, if I’m working remotely. Thus, I made the decision to break free of my self-imposed COVID-19 cocoon and start working most days in person in the office.

I thought about this decision as I read this article in the Wall Street Journal: After Covid, Should You Keep Working From Home? Here’s How to Decide.

Consider these conflicting stats.

  • 54 percent of employees say that they would want to work remotely if permitted post-COVID-19.
  • Yet, over 60 percent of employees report that remote work has increased their time spent in meetings and their work hours, and nearly 50 percent report that it has decreased their work-life balance.
In other words, employees are in favor of remote work as a concept, but in practice, they may not understand that it is doing more harm than good.
Without a real physical separation between work and nonwork, people won’t ever stop working. They will be on the clock 24/7, ultimately burning themselves out at great cost to themselves and their employers. The most recent episode of Depresh Mode with John Moe expertly addressed this issue.
What does this mean for your remote employees? It means that they are likely working too much, some to the point of burnout. If you value your employees’ mental health and wellbeing, factor it into your decision when and whether to bring your employees back to your physical workplace, at least part time. They might think they want to keep working remotely, but they may not necessarily know what’s best for them.

In the meantime, if your employees are going to continue working remotely, consider these tips to help them maintain the balance they need to avoid overworking and burning out.

1.  Set a schedule for your employees and strongly encourage them to stick to it. Alternatively, make available technology that allows employees to designate when they are available and not available. In either case, it must be clear to managers, supervisors, and coworkers that these boundaries must be respected except in the case of a 911-level emergency.
2. Require that employees take breaks during the workday, including a lunch break.
3. Prioritize days off so that employees can recharge their batteries.
4. Remind employees who might be struggling with their mental health of the services you have available for them, including an EAP and counseling and other mental health services via your health insurance plan.

Written by Jon Hyman

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