When Cat, 30, was offered a fully remote role last year, she didn’t think twice about accepting. By then, Cat, who lives in London and works in environmental services, had already been working mostly remotely for some time as a result of the pandemic. She thought that being based from home wouldn’t be much of a problem.
But during the past few months, Cat has started to have second thoughts.
“Working alone all day every day, particularly when my partner is in the office, is tough,” says Cat. “Sometimes, I won’t see anyone all day, which can be very lonely. I’ve found that instead of taking breaks to chat to people in my office, I pick up my phone. All of the extra screen time has definitely had a negative impact on my wellbeing.”
Remote work has been heralded as a solution to some of the problems of our fast-paced, pre-pandemic lifestyles. For many, it’s meant the opportunity to spend more time with their children, or use time that they would have previously wasted commuting pursuing more fulfilling hobbies. But new research into remote work and wellbeing has shown mixed results – in Microsoft’s 2022 New Future of Work Report, researchers found that although remote work can improve job satisfaction, it can also lead to employees feeling “socially isolated, guilty and trying to overcompensate”.
The negative effects have come as a surprise for some employees, who are now feeling the crush, realising remote work isn’t necessarily the wellness panacea it has been touted as. Contrary to the running narrative of a mass demand for remote work, some employees are actually choosing to switch into roles with an in-office component.
But for many, these downsides are well worth it. For demographics who struggled with an office-based working life pre-pandemic, the problems that working from home bring are a small price to pay.
A ‘rapidly growing mental health crisis’
Working from home might have once been viewed as a utopia of exercise on our breaks, making healthy homecooked lunches and easily being able to make the school run. For many, however, the reality has looked very different.
From research showing that remote workers are putting in longer hours at their desk, to data suggesting that up to 80% of UK workers feel that working from home has negatively impacted their mental health, an increasingly complicated picture is emerging when it