So...The Hybrid Work Model Is Weighing On Your Mental Health

A majority of the population works from home...but are you happy about it?

Resume Genius via Unsplash

Ever since the pandemic popularized (or forced) virtual meetings and, countless companies adopted the hybrid work model or went completely virtual. And once the public health crisis was declared over, we remained confined to our desks in our kitchens and attics working from home.

And it’s not just work. Doctor’s TeleHealth appointments, therapy visits on Zoom, asynchronous classes. It seems like nobody wants to meet in-person anymore.

I’m guilty of this. Ever since COVID-19 hit the world, I often opt for virtual appointments over in-person visits. I’ve gotten a bit shy, a bit lazy, and a bit reclusive. It’s a struggle to motivate myself to go anywhere some days.

According to Gallup, 54% of employees in the United States are under the hybrid work model, and 27% are exclusively remote. For many, this is ideal…and the number of hybrid workers is only expected to rise over time.

When I speak to older generations, they think it’s a fate worse than death. How lonely, they say. How sad you must be to not have an office culture. What could you possibly do all day?

But, times have changed. We must adapt to the ever-growing popularity of virtual work…plus with outrageous office rents, more companies are opting to sell their spaces or break their leases and fully embrace the savings that remote work provides.

And while hybrid work can allow you to spend more time with your family and children and embrace a more flexible schedule, it can also be detrimental to many worker’s mental health.

The Blurred Lines Of Work-Life Balance

hybrid work miseryNick Morrison via Unsplash

One of the major setbacks when working the hybrid lifestyle is that you often don’t know when to shut down your laptop. Sure, your hours are 9-5…and in an office, everyone is packing up and leaving at that exact time.

But when it comes to WFH, you can get away with much more. You can run errands during the day, do your laundry in the building or take a workout class you’ve always wanted to try, or a delicious nap you absolutely needed…and while these are fireable offenses in-office, you can make it up by working an extra hour or two at night in the comfort of your own home.

It’s that procrastinator mentality that causes you to struggle. Suddenly, you’re convinced you can work until late at night. And in some cases, employers ask you to.

I’ve heard horror stories from friends about how their bosses made them work until midnight…and that it was even included in her contract. Now that she’s granted the freedom to work from home, her hours are ambiguous.

Before you know it, you’re working intermittently-nonstop throughout the week with no clear routine. What used to be a 9-5 job is now 8:30-midnight…but there’s no overtime payment.

Feeling Isolated?

Whenever someone asks if I’m lonely while working from home…my immediate answer is no. I live in a small city where all of my friends are within a few blocks’ radius, and most of us work from home all week.

Beyond that, I have two roommates who also have the pleasure of working from home. So, I’m not missing out on human interaction by not going into an office. However, I know I’m a lucky case.

Everything’s subjective, so remote work can be an ideal solution for those who are anxious about commuting or being around new people. But for others, it can be equally anxiety-inducing to be stuck in their house day-in-day-out. According to SHRM,

“Fully remote (40%) and hybrid work (38%) are associated with an increased likelihood of anxiety and depression symptoms compared to in-person work (35%), according to an analysis by the Integrated Benefits Institute (IBI), an Oakland, Calif.-based nonprofit research organization,”

If your home isn’t a sanctuary, you may be overwhelmed by working from home. Whether it’s constant domestic interruptions, trouble staying focused, or feeling disconnected from colleagues or family members, it can be tough to balance.

Plus, the hybrid model implies a few days in the office and a few days at home. So, cultivating office relationships when you rarely see your coworkers in-person can be a battle.

An All or Nothing Mentality

hybrid work miseryRivage via Unsplash

As a society, we seem to have adopted this “All or Nothing” mentality. We’re either all in on our work, all day and night, or we’re doing none of it. The lack of clear boundaries between work and real life has caused a huge pain point for many at-home workers.

While there are many factors that contribute to your capacity and bandwidth for work, it’s easy to burn out if you have no real regimen. Constantly working at any hour you wish will just end up building stress and draining time to yourself and for your loved ones.

So, before you snowball out of control because I’ve scared you out of the hybrid work model, don’t worry. Here are a few steps to alleviate the pain of working virtually and make it a bit more manageable and a lot less stressful.

How To Maintain Your Mental Health While Working Hybrid

Work From A Cafe

work from a cafeUnsplash

I know it may sound chaotic, but a good pair of noise-canceling headphones will do wonders. If it’s not a cafe, head outside with your personal hotspot, or even in a library.

The point is to find somewhere that isn’t your home, but isn’t your office either. Try a few places during the week and see what works best for you.

Schedule Time To Work

I get it, you have a lot you want to do in a day…and working from home makes that even more possible. But, you need to get into a routine of working (and not working) at the same time.

Schedule that workout class you’ve always wanted to try during your “lunch break.” Then after the class, you can eat as you work. Schedule small blocks of 30-minute breaks where you can accomplish a quick grocery run, put your laundry away, or whatever you want to do.

Get Outside More

Despite the fact that you’re working outside, fresh air and sunlight can give you a fresh outlook on life. Many people don’t get outside when they’re at their office jobs, so take advantage of the outdoors while you can.

Go for a walk a few times a day, even if it’s just around your block. Give yourself some time away from your screen and you’ll feel fantastic.


meditationKaterina May via Unsplash

Meditation isn’t for everyone, I know. But, focusing on your breathing for as short as ten minutes can help calm your anxiety and lower stress levels. Downloading guided meditation apps is a terrific way to access thousands of guided meditations and talks that can help with any problem.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, disempowered, and out of control, meditation will help you disconnect from your problems, transcend them, and reassess how you want to act and react.

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