Published: 26th August 2020
WFH destroys work-life balance, affects mental health: Expert
Murali Rao, Chairman, Department of Psychiatry and Behavorial Neurosciences, Loyola University Medical Centre in Chicago, said that WFH has destroyed personal boundaries
The Covid-19 pandemic has forced organizations to change their status quo on functionality leading to the new norm of Work from Home. It was expected to be a win-win situation for the employee, however, the outcome has been quite the opposite, studies have shown.
The threat of infection while travelling made the companies allow their employees to work from their respective homes rather than office cubicles. While it was assumed that the situation would have provided the employees some respite and allowed them to spend more time with their families, the experts think otherwise.
They believe that WFH is blurring the boundaries between work and personal spaces and leading to mental health issues among people. Murali Rao, Chairman, Department of Psychiatry and Behavorial Neurosciences, Loyola University Medical Centre in Chicago, said that WFH has destroyed personal boundaries.
Previously, people used to get up, get dressed, take transportation and go to their workplace. The travel time used to give them the shift from home mode to work mode. When they were coming back, it would give them the time to plan and think about home and vice versa. "There were clear boundaries. Now with work from home, partners have different work timing; then there are children, cooking and other activities. The timings are messed up. Those who organize well are performing well, but the majority of people are not organized. No wonder people are ready to go out and go back to organized living," the doctor said while addressing a panel discussion during a webinar on mental health and wellness during the Coronavirus outbreak. The webinar was organized by Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham) on Tuesday as a part of their ongoing series on health -- 'Illness to Wellness'.
Anil Rajput, Chairman of the CSR Council of Assocham, said that WFH has disturbed the whole family ecosystem. "With work from home being the new normal, for many months, the whole family ecosystem has been disturbed and created new challenges for people. The reality is that man is a social animal and when people are unable to engage socially, a mechanism to bring in a new ecosystem to facilitate that communication is extremely important to ensure sound mental health," he added.
Prakriti Poddar, Managing Trustee of Poddar Foundation said that lack of boundaries magnify in cases of working women and trigger mental health issues. "During WFH, especially working women, are put in archaic roles where they are finding it difficult to manage home with their job. They feel that they were not being understood. It is triggering anxiety and stress to them," the doctor said.
However, Poddar also suggested that such problems could be solved by having conversation with the family. "Most people have never established their personal boundaries in India as they never have a conversation around it. Boundaries can be effectively established through open conversations with the family," she advised.
Poddar also added that a probable breakup of the day for a working individual could help in managing the stress and other mental health issues. "Account your day, the way you account your money. We have to account for the energy and time on our hands. Of course we have a certain 8-9 working hours but there also needs to be one hour with the entire family, sometimes as a couple together and of course the 'me time' of 30-35 minutes," she said.
Rajput said that people need to rearrange themselves and balance work along with keeping good mental and physical health. Rao also added that the best way to bring an organization to life is by following four thumb rules -- adequate sleep, ample exercise, nutritious food intake and stress management.