Convenience and cost-savings are huge drivers for entrepreneurs to launch small businesses out of their home offices.
We know this because we’ve both taken the home office experience for a spin. The low overhead, autonomy, and pants-optional, “across the hall” commute are pretty great.
Unfortunately, with all the comfortable benefits come some pretty surprising challenges. These include isolation, loneliness, blurred boundaries between work and private life, and also a heightened level of stress to maintain a heavier operational load.
Many studies have been conducted, examining the effects of working from home as a freelancer, small business owner, or remote worker.
One report stated that remote workers raved about their work-life balance and schedule flexibility, but 49% noted their biggest struggle was wellness-related (Farrer, 2019). An article on Forbes.com quotes Dr. Amy Cirbus, PhD, LMHC, LPC, and Manager of Clinical Quality at Talkspace, “Remote workers often experience symptoms of anxiety and depression at a higher rate than people commuting into traditional office spaces” (Farrer, 2019).
The freedom of working from home comes with the burden of a heavier operational load. Working from home demands a high level of self-motivation, task management, and efficiency. These responsibilities can lead to a constant level of stress.
Eurofound and the International Labour Office came to the same conclusion. They reported that telecommuting was found to be associated with “psychosocial risk factors related to work intensity, supplemental hours of work and longer working hours overall, which seem to have a negative impact on stress, sleeping problems and the perceived impact of work on health” (2017). This idea is supported by their study conducted on individuals working from home in 15 different countries. 42% of participants reported having trouble sleeping and waking during the night. This is compared to 29% of traditional office employees. (Daley, 2019)
It’s no surprise that with all this pressure to produce, working from home can lead to a more sedentary lifestyle in front of a laptop. Some articles even comment on the tendency for these professionals to find comfortable seating that could compromise chiropractic health. These habits can lead to health problems, including weight gain and depression, contributing even more to the elevated stress level.
If these studies resonate with you, it is time for a change!
Work-from-home professionals can benefit from setting clear physical and time boundaries on their work. It is also important to make a daily commitment to exercise or simply getting out of the house.
This can still be difficult to accomplish when your laptop is staring at you from the kitchen counter.
(This is where we shamelessly plug the magic of coworking, but it’s a real solution for a serious problem.)
Coworking is a great cost-effective method for establishing boundaries between work and life. These boundaries have the power to promote healthy habits AND improve overall productivity.
Steve King from Emergent Research argues that “reducing loneliness” is the new value proposition of coworking, and the statistics agree. Surveys of coworking space members found:
Coworking is proven to balance the challenges that come with working from home, in a community that helps members feel connected.
Daley, B. (2019, January 14). It’s Not Just Isolation. Working from Home has Surprising Downsides. Retrieved from http://theconversation.com/its-not-just-the-isolation-working-from-home-has-surprising-downsides-107140
Eurofound and the International Labour Office (2017), Working anytime, anywhere: The effects on the world of work, Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg, and the International Labour Office, Geneva. Retrieved from http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/—dgreports/—dcomm/—publ/documents/publication/wcms_544138.pdf
Farrer, L. (2019, April 12). Are Home Offices Fueling a Mental Health Crisis? Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/laurelfarrer/2019/04/12/are-home-offices-fueling-a-mental-health-crisis/#50dad5143ea3
Fermin, J. (2017, December 6) 11 Incredible Coworking Statistics That Will Make You Leave Your Cubicle (Infographic). Retrieved from https://www.huffpost.com/entry/11-incredible-coworking-statistics-that-will-make-you-leave-your-cubicle_b_6466440