During the last week or so, I have noticed a woman at my gym (let’s call her Sophie), who seems to be there all the time, by all the time I mean, no matter what time I show up, she’s already (or still) there. This made me curious as to what was happening as she often has her laptop setup in the change room (often unattended), so I asked the question.
It turns out that Sophie lives in a one-bedroom flat on her own, her office hasn’t yet reopened to employees, so she is working from home, in the gym. She feels isolated, alone, and anxious when she is working from her flat.
Now, while I have some ethics concerns about the security of the company data, especially since she leaves her laptop unlocked and unattended for large stretches of time, my main concern is for her mental health. And the mental health of the employees who are still being required to work from home, when it is not suited to their personality type or preference.
Admittedly, some of us love working from home, some love a hybrid model that allows the flexibility to choose their office days and their remote working days, but others including Sophie, do not enjoy the work from home situation. They like to interact with their colleagues, see a different set of walls to their home, have the vast array of lunch options, go for after work drinks and, of course, be close to their gym.
I recognise that the pandemic was an unprecedented occurrence in our time, but it isn’t going away and probably won’t be the last event of its type. We need to learn to live with it and adapt to a different way of living.
However, I am not sure that the mandatory work from home indefinitely order that some companies have adopted is the right way to go either.
Humans are a sociable species, who thrive on interaction with others and human contact and removing this contact, even with acquaintances, has not done the majority of the population much good. Which is evidenced in the rise in mental health problems since the start of the pandemic are escalating with little sign of the pressure on Mental Health services easing. Perhaps then, the answer is for companies to invest more in mental health resources for their teams and provide for working arrangements on a case-by-case basis.
What do you think? Do you like the idea of working from home permanently?