Remote working has become a prevalent option for many professionals in the last few years. However, as the world recovers from COVID-19 and businesses open their office doors once again, more and more people are returning to the office - both hybrid and full-time.
Despite enjoying the comfort of their own homes and skipping the morning commute, many individuals are missing human interaction and experiencing feelings of disengagement and virtual fatigue as a result of working remotely. The isolation of home working can affect a person’s mental wellbeing and professional performance. In fact, research reveals that 80% of UK workers feel that working from home has negatively impacted their mental health in a number of ways,
So, while there certainly are perks to working from home, could returning to the office actually be better for your mental health? Let’s explore the benefits of returning to the office on your mental wellbeing and overall happiness at work.
5 Benefits of returning to the office for your mental health
- Establish structure and routine
- Foster social connections
- Promote a healthy work-life balance
- Mitigate distractions and improve focus
- Build supportive networks
1. Establish structure and routine
By nature, humans thrive on routine. Returning to the office can provide much-needed structure, such as regular working hours, designated workspaces, and clear expectations. This structured routine can help you maintain a sense of order, improve your time management, and establish healthy habits, such as a good sleeping pattern or a mindful morning routine.
When working from home, it can be easy to slip into an unhealthy routine, such as waking up just before work starts without actually taking the time to get ready for the day. The morning commute may not be ideal, but it does provide time to wake up and get into a good headspace for the day ahead!
2. Foster social connections
81% of employees under the age of 35 fear the loneliness that comes from working from home long-term. Isolation from other colleagues makes it hard to build relationships at work, which could negatively impact career progression. Interestingly, Gen Z and millennials are most affected by the isolation of remote working. They are finding it most difficult to maintain relationships with colleagues and, as a result, report lower levels of job satisfaction.
The office environment offers ample opportunities for social interaction, collaboration, and building positive working relationships. Engaging in face-to-face conversations, sharing ideas, and working together on projects can bring about a sense of belonging and connection - something you cannot replicate virtually!
FDM consultant Najibul Haque, worked in TechOps with a global media company where he went into the office five days a week. He said,
‘Part of my job is to communicate with different teams and understanding the different software each team uses. Being in the office 5 days a week gave me an opportunity to network with people from the different teams.’
3. Promote a healthy work-life balance
When working from home, you’re granted much more flexibility and become more responsible for managing your own time. This can be both a blessing and a curse. Working from home can blur the boundaries between work and your personal life, leading to difficulties separating the two. The lack of separation can lead to a growing sense of overwhelm and an ‘always on’ feeling, which stops you from taking sufficient breaks or clocking off on time.
According to surveys, one-third of remote workers in the UK have difficulties separating work and home life, and can’t switch off in the evenings or weekends. Similarly, more than one-third of remote workers feel they have to overcompensate for their lack of physical presence, which means they are glued to their laptops, check their emails out of hours, and even have work-related apps downloaded on their personal phones.
On the other hand, the physical commute to the office serves as a transition, allowing you to mentally switch gears and create a division between professional and personal responsibilities.
4. Mitigate distractions and improve focus
The office provides a dedicated workspace designed especially for productivity, free from personal distractions. This helps you focus better and produce high-quality work without interruptions. Improved productivity naturally gives you a better shot at boosting your career progression!
In contrast, working from home means dealing with the many distractions of home life like chores or even just working in a noisier environment than normal. Over time, distractions can have a serious impact on your productivity and job performance.
Moreover, a key driver for burnout in the workplace is stress, which can be fuelled by poor time management, inefficiency, and falling behind on work. When you are unable to focus, you may find yourself struggling to keep up with deadlines and working overtime to compensate for the time lost due to distractions.
5. Build supportive networks
The office environment fosters a supportive community, where colleagues can uplift one another. Colleagues can offer each other emotional support, guidance, and camaraderie, and share experiences, which helps create a sense of belonging and reduce feelings of isolation. If you are struggling to meet a deadline or want to talk to someone about a work-related issue you’re facing, your colleagues will always be there to help. In some instances, supportive work environments can even lead to long-lasting friendships beyond the workplace.
FDM consultant Abhay Patani worked in cloud security with a global bank. His work as part of an Agile team was mostly from home. He says,
‘This was a hindrance to collaborating with my team’. He would have preferred more office working because he believes it’s easier to get things done as a team.
Make your mental health a top priority
It’s time to rediscover the joys of working in an office environment, even if that’s just for a couple of days a week to begin with. Many of us have become complacent with remote working, so you’re not alone. However, your mental health should be a top priority and you deserve to give yourself the time and commitment to do what’s best for you. Although it might take some additional effort to get yourself into the office at first, once you build a healthy routine, it will be like you never left!
Read our guide on how to face the return to the office to help make your transition as smooth as possible.