Workplace stress is not an uncommon occurrence; we all experience it but we handle it, get over it and then the cycle starts again. However, for some, workplace stress can be all consuming. Prolonged periods of negative feelings can damage one’s mental health.
Moreover, our fast-paced society and lifestyle doesn't help. The constant need to keep up with evolving times is an added pressure - you need to stay in-the-know in order to stay connected.
Is working in the office environment itself instigating stress? Would working from home minimise workplace stress? The notion of working from home would be ideal for many (especially parents), but being in your comfortable, private space also comes with challenges.
Stress instigators 1
Motivation drives performance, without it, we don't have the will to achieve. Overwhelming stress can diminish motivation - becoming reluctant to reach goals - and consequently, work-life becomes a heavy burden. When an individual arrives at that stage, it can be very hard to recover.
Some common workplace stressors:
- Excessive job demands
We are not robots, our capabilities have limits. Maintaining an unreasonable workload, working long hours and taking insufficient breaks, are all factors that can exert stress on an individual. Whilst pressure is a necessary motivating force, excessive amounts can lead to depression and anxiety.
- Lack of control over your work
Micromanagement can be a hindrance. Even though it is slowly losing its presence in the workplace, some organisations still practise it. When your every move is constantly dictated by authoritative personnel, it can make you feel inferior and helpless. These feelings can lead to low self-esteem and depression.
- Lack of support
Growth and opportunity drives people's ambitions. Without encouragement and support, there is no reason to strive harder. A high-performing employee who doesn't feel valued or supported can become apathetic, and their career potential stifled.
- Role ambiguity
Everyone has a role in an organisation, not knowing yours and how you fit in can make you feel lost. Employees require an understanding of expectations, the organisation's measures of success and how their role contributes to the organisation's success. Without these indicators, employees can feel disoriented.
- Job insecurity
Society is changing more rapidly every day. Organisations too, must change and adapt continuously. Employees are more vulnerable to organisational change now than ever before, and the feeling of uncertainty during times of change can cause extreme distress and anxiety.
- Problematic relationships
The majority of our week is spent with our colleagues, positive professional relationships make a whole lot of difference. Problematic relationships in the workplace or with clients can significantly raise stress levels.
- Bullying or discrimination
Toxic employees can destroy an organisation. Humans yearn for a sense of belonging, thus bullying and discrimination not only impair productivity but more importantly, one's mental wellbeing. Social exclusion leads to depression, and people often respond by leaving their job rather than speak out about their distress.
Can working at home eradicate these workplace stressors?
Advantages of working from home
- Avoid toxic employees, distractions and unfavourable influence
Not being in the office means that you won't be around the toxic colleague, who can disrupt your concentration and wellbeing. Thus, you can be completely focused on the tasks at hand.
- Working at your own pace
Flexible working hours means more autonomy - this increases motivation. Working from home can be especially good for parents. It allows them the time and freedom to juggle work and home responsibilities. Staying connected with family and friends assists in the pursuit of work-life balance.
- Reduce stress of peak commute
Increasingly one of the greatest stressors is being stuck in the peak hour commute. Working from home eliminates pressure of getting to work on time and frustration caused by peak hour travel. Time spent on the road can be used more productively.
Disadvantages of working from home
- Household distractions
Your own home environment may contribute to procrastination, distractions and reduced productivity. This could create more stress for some because they find it hard to concentrate. When you are in an office environment where everyone is productive, you are more likely to conform to effective work practices and remain motivated.
- Work and personal life boundaries blurred
Some may find that they commit time during working hours to personal responsibilities, and additional hours devoted to work outside normal working hours. The line between personal and work life becomes hard to distinguish. Devoting time to work on weekends is not ideal and contributes to stress levels.
- Isolation and lack of communication
Isolation is probably the biggest detriment to working from home. Working from home can mean less personal and social interaction with co-workers. Regular confinement to home can make one feel lonely and disconnected from the world, which can lead to mental illnesses.
- Pressure on others
The pressure of showing up at the office is taken off you, but your absence can put pressure on your colleagues. For example, if a client makes an unexpected visit to your workplace with an issue, and you happen to be unreachable at that point, your colleagues would have to deal with the issue immediately on your behalf. This might have a detrimental effect on your relationships with colleagues and clients.
The practicality of working from home is dependent on the job role and responsibilities. Maintaining balance is key - a flexible schedule that allows one to alternate between attending the office and working from home could be the most effective solution to workplace stress. Mutual trust forms the basis of ultimate success for the individual and the organisation.
Stressed? Unable to find an appropriate balance? How can our programs help you?
ABOUT THE CEO INSTITUTE
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Lisa Kasiaras, Global Manager - Franchising & Marketing, The CEO Institute
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1Retrieved from Spark, S. and Ryan, C. (2016). How to beat stress at work before it damages your health. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-04-13/workplace-stress-is-it-affecting-your-health/7319276