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The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the global workforce in ways that are unlikely to ever reverse. While remote working existed before the pandemic, there are now many more remote jobs. They are also more in demand than ever before.
Employees realized that they value the freedom that working from home gives them, and many employers recognized that it was cheaper and more cost-effective to let their employees do their work from home than to let them come to the office.
However, as with anything, there are some downsides to keep in mind with this new work environment. There are some very real dangers that anyone who works from home, or supervises employees who work from home, should keep in mind.
Related: What No One Tells You About Remote Working
1. The lack of real human interaction can be mentally dangerous
While Zoom and other video conferencing software can make working from home more appealing than simple phone calls or email, the emotional and mental stability of remote workers is something every leader should be aware of.
The American Psychiatric Association completed a survey last year which showed that home workers often suffer from isolation and loneliness. Worse, the same survey found that the number of employers providing remote workers access to mental health services has declined since the start of the pandemic. The survey found that only 20% of employers offered this service a year after the start of the pandemic. This contrasts with 35% of employers who provided mental health services at the start of the pandemic.
Related: 50 Work From Home Jobs That Pay As Much Or Much More Than The Average U.S. Salary
2. It is difficult for remote workers to unplug and get away from work
While employees today often complain about the inability to get away from work due to the prevalence of smartphones and employers using email outside of work hours, this problem is even greater for remote workers who are literally steps away from their office at any time moment.
Boundaries around “off-the-clock” hours should always be respected and respected by employers, and there should be a keen awareness of this fact for staff working outside the home. Management should respect employees’ time and help them get much-needed downtime when they’re not working in their home office.
It’s important to take breaks and keep the work office just that – just a workplace, if possible. Do not fall into the routine of your work in the living room or at the dining table; this will serve to create an association in your mind that when you are in those locations you should be working. This association must be avoided at all costs.
Related: Remote Working Continues: Are You Ready for the New Way of Living?
3. Remote working can cause anxiety
While social interactions and the risk of going to work can cause anxiety for many employees, the reverse is also true for many American workers. Working remotely can often be a source of anxiety. A survey last fall found that 47% of homeworkers experience anxiety. This fear can lead to depression, irritability, sadness and panic attacks.
As mentioned in the previous point, one of the biggest risk factors for anxiety is the fact that one’s home is their office and employees often feel like they can’t leave their jobs. Home workers feel that they always have to work on something instead of taking a break. Even just the process of walking past the home office can become a source of anxiety for some.
4. There are heightened security risks for teleworkers
Remote workers must be aware of cybersecurity risks by keeping their computer networks safe, not only for their data, but also for that of their employer. For this reason, employers must ensure that the proper infrastructure is in place for an employee’s home office, and if not, compensate the employee for installing whatever needs to be installed to keep their information safe.
Hackers recognize that telecommuters are a gold mine and will target this sector accordingly. Leadership can help their employees be protected while working remotely by giving them the guidance to stay on top of cybersecurity and best practices for navigating the remote work environment. Good IT staff are not just there to help the employees in the office; the IT staff should also be accessible to your remote employees.
There is no doubt that remote working will be a part of our lives forever. The pandemic changed the way many companies oversee their workforce and the resources needed to keep their workforce on the ground. That said, any major workforce change throughout history has come with dangers. Be aware of these pitfalls as our new normal becomes permanent.
Related: Why a secure remote environment is more important today than ever before