By Dr. Bola
The dreams of working from home in your PJs are so alluring.
Freedom to work when you want to
Control over your work environment
The flexibility of having work fit into your life not the other way round
Not having to deal with the rush hour traffic
What’s there not to like? “Sign me up” you say.
Our survey of 258 women working from home uncovered some of the not-so-glamorous aspects of the work from home environment.
Long toil in front of the computer is the order of the day. These women are working longer hours and accomplishing less because of the many distractions in this work environment. Partners and spouses conveniently assume that they can work, do the household chores and take care of the kids all at the same time.
Isolation and loneliness were by far what troubled work from home women the most. In trying to make up for the paucity of adult interaction during the day, these women hangout in Facebook groups which in turn puts a drain on their productivity.
Many met the criteria for clinical depression.
The issue here is not the work environment. Being in an office outside of the home has big draw backs; traffic, distractions and lack of flexibility. The issue here is the isolation. We humans thrive in communities. One cardinal sign of depression in an otherwise outgoing person is withdrawal.
I had dreams of being a medical examiner so I could just recreate all the fun they have on the TV show; CSI. Eighteen months working in a reference lab before my medical training got me off that path. I could spend a whole day doing my work running the machines and fiddling with pipettes without getting to get out of the lab or interact with co-workers.
I discovered myself in that environment and changed my career focus to become a family physician instead, where I was sure to interact with people (my patients) on a daily basis.
While you might not have the latitude to change your work-from-home environment, there are ways to deal with the isolation it brings.
Sign up for a co-working space
Co-working spaces are springing up in lots of cities and even small towns. You don’t need to go every day. Once a week or once every 2 weeks makes a big difference in dealing with the isolation of working from home.
Organize or attend meet-ups
Go to meetup.com to find a group in your locale. It does not have to be work or business related you are not a one dimensional person; you certainly have other interests apart from work. If not, intervention time.
Structure time in your week for some sort of video conferencing or call;
Skype calls, Google hangouts or even facetime on the iphone. Nothing beats face-to-face interaction but the video calls come quite close.
Make time for exercise
The endorphins released by the brain during exercise helps to combat the low serotonin in the brain that could lead to depression.
All of the above help if depression has not set in. Depression will sap you of energy required to connect with people which makes the sense of isolation even worse.
So how do you know if you are depressed? These 2 questions will help guide you;
- In the past 2 weeks, have you been sad for more days than not?
- In the past 2 weeks, have you lost interest in things that previously brought you pleasure?
If you answered yes to both questions, I suggest you get seen by a medical or mental health professional for further assessment and treatment (if necessary).
Dr. Bola is a family physician with a fondness for women’s health and women lifestyle issues. She is the co-founder of Healthgist.com; the hub for honest health talk for the busy women.
How are you are faring in your work-from-home arrangement? Get your Work-From-Home Wellbeing Index by taking the quiz.