Working from your couch causing you stress?
Just today morning I was on a call and my little one peeped into the camera to say hi to my team. But my team was more than happy to see her and greet her. I am sure similar things happen to many of you as well. While it is okay, but when we have to deal with such situations frequently they can be stressful. COVID has changed the entire scenario of working for us. Shifted us from our desks and offices to our hall, kitchen and bedroom. Most of us do not have the luxury of having a separate home office that gives us the quiet and peace to work.
According to a survey conducted by LinkedIn on Indian employees working from home, around 39% people reported an increase in their stress levels. One of the reasons is that working from home full of people can cause distractions. And besides that, the lack of a proper workspace causes not only physical stress but can also impact mental wellbeing and causes stress.
Employees are unable to focus on their work amidst the distractions caused by family members or other neighbours. People have to battle the sounds coming from the kitchen, TV, someone on the phone in the neighbourhood to be able to be audible to the other person on a virtual meeting. And this causes not only embarrassment but also stress to the people. Besides, reading your listener’s body language is almost impossible with videos off on virtual meetings which leaves you in limbo about how the message was received.
Setting up an office space at home can be quite a challenge as most of us may have already experienced. The ergonomic challenges like finding a comfortable chair to work from, or good quality earphones or even a table that is just the right height is quite important in this situation. Bad ergonomics can lead to many musculoskeletal disorders like back strain and carpal tunnel syndrome or even varicose veins. But often goes unnoticed is the effect they have on mental health. Imagine sitting in an uncomfortable chair all day. Doesn’t it make you irritable and agitated? Bad ergonomics over a long period can affect one’s mental health by causing stress, affecting sleep at night and even add to burnout.
What is even lesser known though is the psycho-social side of ergonomics. Psychosocial ergonomics deals with three factors: factors associated with the job, demands outside work and individual characteristics. Time pressure, lack of workspace, more monotony, less social and emotional connection with colleagues are examples of factors associated with the job. Expectations and demands from family is an example of demands outside work whereas, individual characteristics include personality and attitudes.
Dealing with these factors is as important as may be picking up the right chair for you. This can significantly affect productivity and increase stress levels. So how do you deal with it?
Few quick ways of dealing with bad psycho-social ergonomics:
Organizations need to set clear policies when it comes to work from home to help employees manage their work life harmony better.
Provide training and support to employees to deal with the stress they experience
Set clear expectations to manage the cognitive load
Manage expectations when it comes to home for instance, dividing the chores, taking care of the children, getting supplies or taking care of a family member.
Set clear timings to manage and spend quality time with your child.
Besides using one-on-one support, counselling services or even reaching out to a friend may help deal with the individual level factors
Practicing meditation and other physical activities such as yoga, work out and indulging in in sensorial activities can help relieve stress
Indulging in any other activities that make us feel good about ourselves and rejuvenated also help.
While we can’t change the working from the couch situation. Few careful steps can help us manage the stress a long way.
Author: Shreya Shah