Published: 05th May 2020
Extra hours in work from home may lead to adverse psychological impact
Close to two months into a nationwide, it seems work-from-home experiment has no end in sight. And, if there were boundaries separating work and personal life, it seems it has faded away
One upside of working from home is protection from the outbreak of Coronavirus and also having freed-up time from travelling, but experts warn that unintentionally spending more hours could disrupt the work-life cycle and unfavourably impact the mental well-being of employees.
Ashish Pakhre, an alumnus of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) said corporate sector leaders should check and discuss with their employees about unaddressed psychological blows while working from home. "The implications of unusual new work - life cycle on the mental well-being of millions of employees can't be ignored. Employees will have many concerns, worries and feeling vulnerable to a great extent in this perilous period for the business sector", said Pakhre.
Close to two months into a nationwide, it seems work-from-home experiment has no end in sight. And, if there were boundaries separating work and personal life, it seems it has faded away.
The usual 9 to 5 workday seems like a remnant from the past; instead, a 12-hour or 13-hour shift has become a new normal for many employees in the corporate sector. "I begin at 9 a.m. and usually end at 9 p.m. every day since the beginning of the lockdown. Feels like burnt-out, as I have less free time than what I wasted in commuting from Delhi to Gurugram," said Sandeep Tiwari, an employee with an IT company in Gurugram.
Initially, many thought migrations from office to work from home, in the backdrop of the outbreak of the coronavirus, would lead to a new work culture — having flexible working hours.
During the lockdown, many made plans of having more time for families and to take up new hobbies, as commuting to the workplace has vanished. Close to two months in the lockdown, people are complaining of being overworked, stressed due to continuous meetings through video conferring and flurry of emails to respond. The changing contours of the working hours could potentially negatively impact employees.
"Employees' minds will be troubled by risks to job loss, financial worries and it will adversely affect their mental health leading to depression, anxiety, sleep problems, excessive use of substances like alcohol and tobacco and worsening of pre-existing mental health and physical health issues", added Pakhre.
Samir Parikh, Director of Mental Health and Behavioural Sciences at the Fortis Healthcare, said the key thing to understand is that work from home is a reality, and in the current circumstances, it's important to maintain a sense of positivity and productivity to bring out the best efforts.
"Maintaining a routine is now more important now than ever before. The right approach to do this is to create a work window — define working hours to ensure a work-life balance. At the same time, organisations also need to maximise their empathy quotient and support each other. We also need to give importance to mental health outcomes, to prioritise positivity and well-being at work", added Parikh.
Mohit Gupta, a Gurugram based IT sector employee, said the fear of job insecurity looms large from layoffs or closure of the business. "Organisation policies and risk management strategies must include plans for enhancing the psychological health of employees. If we feel protected, it will help to overcome the deleterious effect of the pandemic, which threatens our health and financial stability", added Gupta.