In 2020, the World Economic Forum reported that 98% of people want the ability to work from anywhere. However, as remote work possibilities continue to expand, that number may shrink. As it turns out, when you’re working from home, mental health often falls to the wayside.
In early 2021, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) surveyed 1,000 remote workers. The results are telling: Almost two-thirds of remote employees experience loneliness or isolation.
This news is troublesome because the option to work from anywhere comes with obvious advantages: Less time commuting, more home-cooked meals, sweatpants and so on. The trick, then, is to find balance.
As a company that is proud to successfully offer a flexible, hybrid work environment, we believe that remote work and mental health can go hand-in-hand. Here are a few things we’ve implemented to promote our team’s well-being in and out of the office.
Create a Welcoming Workspace
When you’re spending (at least) 40 hours per week in your home office, it’s in your best interest to make it as enjoyable as possible. After all, your work environment plays a role in your mental well-being.
If you can, find a space near a window with natural light, and consider investing in:
- A comfortable chair
- A wide, adjustable desk
- Plants and greenery
- Decent speakers or headphones
- A high-quality monitor
Of course, if you don’t work from home, you can still make an effort to find somewhere pleasant to work. With any luck, that “somewhere” will be a tropical beach. Our teammates have actually worked remotely from Hawaii, Macedonia, Romania, and other incredible destinations—not while on vacation, but as part of the flexibility we like to offer team members who wish to visit family abroad or comfortably take some time away.
Spend Time Away from Your Home Office
Speaking of time away, once you have a cozy, well-decorated space, don’t forget to leave it from time to time.
When our working life happens from home, there’s plenty of difficulty getting away from work. Making an effort to leave the house can do wonders for your mental health. As often as you can, try to:
- Go outside – As the American Psychological Association explains, being outdoors can improve your mood, boost your attention and decrease stress. If you throw in some exercise while you’re out, the results may be even better.
- Be with friends – Hanging out with friends and family is an excellent way to unwind and reclaim some work-life balance. One psychiatric study shows that spending time with peers can be as effective for managing depression as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).
Look Into a Hybrid Schedule
If your company has an office and you live close enough, it may be worth settling on a hybrid schedule with your manager. Even spending three days a week at home and two in the office can make a significant difference.
After all, humans are social creatures. Connecting with others is foundational to our mental well-being. Without a traditional in-office work schedule to guarantee human interaction, we might spend more time alone. That loneliness can make us feel isolated and depressed.
A hybrid or flexible work schedule—like the one we’ve adopted at Human—is the best of both worlds. It combines the financial benefits of remote employment with the social benefits of in-person work. If it’s an option that’s available to you, it could be worth a try.
Experiment with Co-Working Spaces
Of course, for many, going into the office is impossible. If you’re a freelancer, your organization may not even have a physical office space. And if you’re one of the millions of people moving to take advantage of remote work possibilities, a daily commute is out of the question.
Fortunately, co-working spaces exist to fill the gap. Companies like WeWork and Impact Hub offer hundreds of worldwide co-working locations.
However, co-working spaces exist mostly in major cities; they’re much less prevalent outside of urban centers. With that said, you can almost always find somewhere to be productive among others. Depending on where you’re located, you may be able to co-work at:
- A coffee shop
- A local bar or restaurant
- The library
- A community center
Take Advantage of Workplace Benefits and Other Resources
According to a 2022 survey on mental health in the workplace by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), 78% of businesses either have or plan to offer mental health resources.
If you’re lucky enough to have access to an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) or mental health services through your insurance, be sure to use them. They exist for a reason. Don’t be afraid to use those benefits for your mental health—even as a proactive measure.
If your employer doesn’t offer extended health benefits, you can still access other free resources, such as:
- Online Forums – Groups like the Anxiety & Depression Association of America (ADAA) have free online support groups.
- Crisis Text Line – If you’re experiencing a mental health crisis, you can text “HOME” to 741741 for 24/7 crisis counselor support.
- 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline – By dialing 988, you can find free, confidential support seven days a week.
The Importance of a Human-First Approach to Work
not always easy, but it’s essential. Protecting your mental health is not always easy, but it’s essential. Humans are the drivers of success behind organizations, and when mental health suffers, productivity and motivation aren’t far behind.
But, more than anything, humans have emotions, thoughts and dreams. And we all deserve the very best—in work and in life. Here’s to a better, human-first approach to work.