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Remote Work and Mental Health: How to Increase Psychological Well-Being When Working Remotely

Overview

Remote Work and Mental Health: How to Increase Psychological Well-Being When Working Remotely

The relationship between remote work and mental health is complicated. According to the APA’s 2023 Work in America Survey, while fewer remote workers (13%) report a toxic workplace than in-person workers (22%), over a quarter (26%) of all workers—in-person, hybrid, and fully remote—reported experiencing feelings of loneliness and isolation. Clearly, though remote work has its benefits, it’s also not without psychological risks. 

 

This shouldn’t surprise us. Remote work presents unique psychological challenges that can affect mental health and productivity, including isolation from reduced daily interactions, workload management issues, and blurred work-life boundaries. All of these call for careful, proactive management.

 

In this article, you’ll learn strategies for tackling these issues—enhancing both your mental health and productivity as a remote worker.

Remote Work and Psychological Safety

Remote work, while offering unprecedented flexibility, also harbors several psychological challenges that can hinder an employee’s mental health and productivity. These include:

  • Isolation. In one survey, around 50% of remote workers felt lonely at least once a week. Employees are isolated, both socially and professionally, leaving them prone to feeling disconnected from the team.
  • Work and personal life merging into one. Likewise, research indicates that remote workers work more than 40 hours at a 43% higher rate than traditional office-based team members. Work often spills into early mornings and late nights without the natural breaks of office life. This can lead to burnout, decreased productivity, and a toll on mental health.
  • The lack of a structured office environment. Finally, the need to self-manage and self-motivate can be daunting, especially for those whose remote office setup is not ideal.

Recognizing this is the first step to creating a healthier, more productive remote work experience. Let’s pivot now to strategies that can help mitigate these issues for both remote workers and their employers.

Establishing Structured Routines

You don’t need a degree in psychology to understand the importance of a structured routine. However, it’s important to keep in mind that the effectiveness of a daily routine depends on both the individual and the complexity of the task. Nevertheless, experts agree that a routine provides: 

 

  • Better focus: Regular schedules reinforce a state of mental readiness for work.
  • Less stress: Knowing what to expect each day eases anxiety about managing time and tasks.
  • Improved work-life balance: Clear cutoff times help ensure personal time remains protected.

Steps to Create a Productive Routine

Seasoned remote workers know that a routine is crucial to productivity. So, how do you set one up? You just need to: 

 

  1. Set specific work hours: Stick to consistent start and end times each day, mimicking the structure of office life. Not only will this lower your level – it will also help you improve your time management.
  2. Designate a workspace: Establish a specific area for working. This physical separation helps your brain associate this space with productivity and the rest of your home with relaxation.
  3. Take breaks: Regularly scheduled breaks can improve concentration and reduce burnout. Pro tip: Try the Pomodoro Technique, which divides tasks into 25-minute intervals interspersed with 5-minute breaks.

Integrating Mindfulness Practices

Mindfulness practice can improve mental health by reducing stress, increasing focus, and building emotional resilience. Think of mindfulness as a workout for your mind. Over time, it will help you:

  • reduce stress,
  • improve focus, and
  • enhance your resilience.

Mindfulness Techniques for Remote Workers

Find a quiet space and uninterrupted time for mental focus. Then, try these techniques:

  1. Mindful mornings: Begin the day with a 10-minute meditation to set a positive tone for the day ahead.
  2. Breathing exercises: Use deep breathing techniques before and after meetings to maintain calmness and clear-headedness.
  3. Scheduled mindfulness breaks: Incorporate short mindfulness sessions throughout the day to reset and refocus, especially during high-stress periods.

Still not convinced by the benefits of meditation? A study by the Association of Psychological Science supports the notion that meditation helps increase attention span and overall focus.

How Does Virtual Coworking Help?

Virtual coworking provides the feel of a traditional office and fosters the social interactions remote workers miss. Studies in Norway and Estonia confirm its benefits. It enables spontaneous conversations and visual connections with colleagues via video, maintaining informal communication channels vital for team cohesion.

 

Get Technical  

Once you’ve got the basics in place—a routine, mindfulness practice, and social connection—what else can you do to make remote work and mental health complementary?

 

One tip is to analyze your own workflow and habits to identify pain points. If you lack the proper tools to do your job effectively, ask your employer for help. If they respond negatively, you may want to look for another team.

Wrapping Up

The shift to remote work is challenging but also presents a chance to rethink how we approach work and mental health. However, we shouldn’t ignore the potential combined effects of isolation, disorganization, and anxiety.

The shift to remote work is challenging. But it also presents a chance to rethink how we approach work and mental health. However, we shouldn’t ignore the potential combined effects of isolation, disorganization, and anxiety.

Start with a structured routine, mindfulness practices, and the right tools. With persistence, you’ll find that remote work and mental health can complement each other.

Picture of Russel Ridgeway
Russel Ridgeway
Russell Ridgeway is an American writer based in Budapest, Hungary. He writes in business, tech, and fashion, as well as creative fiction. You can reach him by email, or on LinkedIn and other social media platforms.

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