working from home

The recent publication of an internal memo from Yahoo has sparked renewed controversy over the issue of working from home. From June this year Yahoo employees will be banned from working from home and have to come into the office daily.

Employers and employees are divided over the issue of home working – some believe that working from home is the future of business, while others consider it to be damaging to productivity. Wording from the Yahoo memo would suggest that they side with the latter, stating, “Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home”.

Meanwhile, the majority of businesses are working to increase flexibility for employees and working from home is encouraged in many countries to help with the work/life balance and support families. Whatever your opinion, working from home is becoming increasingly common but it does present many potential dangers to mental health.

I’m always at work

Working from home has many benefits: no commuting, home comforts and none of the distractions of the office. However, if your home is your office it can be hard to ‘switch off’ outside of office hours. A study published in the Monthly Labor Review (Profs M Noonan & J Glass: June, 2012) found that employees work between five to seven hours more at home than they would in an office setting. Workers can spend a large part of their evenings thinking about work with the temptation to ‘just finish off that project’.

If your work and home life is blurred try to have a separate space or room that you work in. Once the day is done close the door on your home office – out of sight helps greatly with out of mind.  If you’re really struggling to separate to two, think about spending a few more days in the office.

I have to prove that I’m working

This can be a common reason to work longer hours and relates to the point above. Home workers often have a fear that colleagues and managers won’t believe that they are working so they must prove it. It’s a common assurance to send emails late at night or early in the morning to prove to others that you are at your desk. However, this can have a detrimental impact on our mental health with the stress of having to prove yourself making us less productive!

If it was true that you weren’t working, it is likely that your manager would notice that deadlines aren’t met and work isn’t done. Don’t become your own worst enemy and get caught up in this cycle. Working from home requires boundaries to be set between personal and work time. Free-time is needed to recharge batteries and rest so that we can be more productive when we are at work.

geishaboy500 / / CC BY

geishaboy500 / / CC BY

People don’t see it as real work

Working from home can be seen as a bit of a ‘skive’ or ‘not real’ work. Family and friends can have difficulty understanding that you are working and ask for favours or pop around for a cup of tea during working hours. Young children can also find it hard to understand that you are working. This can have a negative impact on your mood if you are constantly justifying why you can’t do something or if you feel guilty for not doing something. In the long-term this could lead to resentment of others or feeling inadequate about your work.

Help others understand by setting clear boundaries and communicate with them so that everyone is clear of the rules when you’re working. Ask yourself if you would answer your mobile in the office, if you wouldn’t then try not to at home. Be as consistent as possible with children so that they know the rules too.

It’s lonely

One of the biggest downsides of working from home is the possibility of feeling isolated and being disconnected from work colleagues. With a lot of communication done via email it can be easy go for long periods without actually talking to colleagues.

Overcome isolation by having real-time communication by phone or video chats and consider splitting your time between the office and home.  Staying connected to your workplace and colleagues makes you feel like a valued part of the company and increases motivation.

Changes may be underway at Yahoo but with such a wave of public backlash, both international and within Yahoo, it seems unlikely that working from home will disappear anytime soon.

What is love?

In case you didn’t guess from all of the hearts, red roses and chocolates that have besieged the high street over the last few weeks, today is Thursday 14th of February: Valentine’s Day.

Valentine’s Day can be stressful. People who are in relationships worry about what to get each other (Will they like it? Will it be good enough? Is it too predictable? Have a spent enough?). Those who don’t have a partner can sometimes feel sad or lonely and convince themselves that they are the only single person on the planet. At the very least, the day can bring confusion about what people should be feeling versus what they are feeling, in or out of relationships.


Photo credit: seyed mostafa zamani / / CC BY

The top question asked of Google last year was: What is love? A difficult question with many answers and even more interpretations, the Oxford English Dictionary describes love as “a feeling or disposition of deep affection or fondness for someone”. The definition doesn’t mention soul mate, partner or ‘the One’ so why do we so closely associated a partner with the ability to participate in a day that celebrates love?

Whether you’re single or coupled-up why not use Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to celebrate all of your relationships (romantic or not)?

Instead of trying to prove your love for someone on a single day with grand gestures, take the time to show your appreciation for the people in your life who are important all 365 days of the year.

  • Reach out to friends and arrange a dinner with a group to catch up on news.
  • Take today as an opportunity to spend some time to yourself. Book a massage, have a bubble bath, buy yourself a present, make your favourite meal, or do an activity that you enjoy. Today doesn’t have to be about spending a lot of money, use the day as an opportunity to appreciate you.
  • Visit family members you don’t see very often. By spending the day with them you will make them feel special and may be surprised at how good you feel too.
  • Curl up in front of the TV and watch a film. Love Actually was recently voted the most romantic film in a LoveFilm poll. You may not want to watch a romantic film but try taking them as a bit of entertainment and appreciating that most are unrealistic – no one has ever fallen into a lake as often as Colin Firth!

You have the power to choose whether you want Valentine’s Day to be a positive or negative day. It shouldn’t matter whether you have a significant other or not.

And finally, if all else fails, remember that in less than 24 hours it’s Friday – a much better day by far!

Photo credit: seyed mostafa zamani / / CC BY

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