It is well established that the most recent pandemic has altered the relevance of workspaces, quite possibly forever. Individuals working in a multitude of companies doing a variety of different jobs have been exposed to WFH or just working remotely, & have begun to prefer that to going back to work full-time. Although WFH comes with its benefits, primarily increased productivity, cost-effectiveness, personal safety, & NOT dressing to impress (you gotta love the loungewear all day everyday!), there are an equal number of effects which are beginning to affect the health & well-being of WFH employees.
Why is WFH getting the side-eye?
WFH might have seemed like a great change at the start, but you know what they say - nothing in excess. The advantages have resulted in multiple health risks, both physical & psychological, which are huge attacks to the overall psyche. So what are these health risks?
A study conducted in 2020 found that 45% of employees who had switched to WFH due to the lockdowns had developed bad posture. The causes of bad posture could be due to slouching whilst being seated & constantly using your phone - things are bound to happen as a result of WFH & the increasing screen time that has been necessitated by the new work culture (& social media addiction). People are suffering from chronic back pain & neck pain which leads to more problems like the inability to sleep, irritability & in cases, even immobility.
Work productivity does come at a cost in the WFH setting as individuals do have more hours in a day to do more. While that does make them & their employees happier (work-wise!), it does depend on increased screen time & working hours. This has resulted in an increase in insomnia & difficulty sleeping, & according to a study conducted by Eurofound, 42% of WFH employees complained about problems relating to sleep, while only close to 30% of employees working from offices complained of the same. This is bound to be due to the flexible work hours, which lead to people working later at night to finish their work, giving them less time to sleep before they start their day again.
At the end of the day, human beings are social animals. So what happens when socialisation is removed or at the very least minimised? Social isolation. According to Holt-Lunstad, Smith, Baker, Harris & Stephenson, this refers to the “pervasive lack of social contact, communication, participation in social activities, or having a confidant”. We start to feel alone & separate from even our friends & loved ones, & this loneliness turns into social anxiety & social withdrawal, where we begin to consciously & subconsciously separate ourselves from social activity. Even the thought of being in a social setting starts becoming scary as we become more comfortable being alone. Distress in these periods of solitude are also very common, & yet, the vicious circle of social angst ensues.
A by-product of social isolation is anxiety, which comes in the form of not getting work done, continuing to be alone & negative thoughts. Anxiety can lead to substance abuse, suicidal thoughts, & even panic attacks. In a WFH situation, especially for people living alone, you are alone with nothing but your thoughts, & these thoughts have a way of spiralling & taking you down into a vacuum of despair. This can affect your work as well as your physical & mental health, which are of huge importance & should be catered to as soon as possible.
So is there an answer to these WFH problems? Yes. It comes in the form of another style of work - hybrid workplaces. Hybrid workplaces allow employees to work from both the comfort of their homes as well as in a workspace. Many companies like Twitter, Citigroup, Ford, Google & Infosys have officially begun moving into hybrid territory following COVID-19 & have found the results to be fabulous. Coworking spaces offer a much needed breath of fresh air to conventional workspaces & are providing employees to work in a corporate space which caters to comfort, wellbeing, fun & interaction. How do they do this? Let’s read on..
‘Hybrid’ is a health hack
There has to be a reason why coworking spaces are opening up on every other road in every major city in the world, right? They are fun, they are trendy, they ARE the hype. They are the solutions to the problems faced by individuals working from home. But how is it worth it?
Having a comfortable chair to sit on might be one of the best feelings ever! Ergonomic seating ensures support for your back, neck & more than adequate cushioning for your butt, amongst other benefits. It works for everybody due to the adjustability feature, making it a good long-term solution to have in coworking spaces. These spaces tend to pride themselves on ergonomic seating, with multiple options for seating as well, ERGO (get it?!) making them a good option for hybrid styles of work. Say goodbye to your back pain - at least while you work!
Separates your workspace from your home space
While WFH might be convenient, it can be an exhausting experience in the long run because of the lack of distinction between work life & home life. Having separate spaces are important as your brain makes links to these distinctions i.e. your brain gets into work mode if you enter a work space, & goes into chill mode at home. Obviously, if these spaces are muddled, your brain gets confused & will most likely be in work mode when you have time to relax, automatically keeping you in an extended state of stress. Coworking spaces offer a respite by providing employees with another space to work at, giving you your space to de-stress & relax at home.
Space to socialise
Coworking spaces enable socialisation amongst employees who work in these spaces. Places like 2gethr in Bangalore host events to enhance socialisation & propagate networking to help individuals & their ideas grow. These spaces allow for a free flow of ideas and enhance productivity. In a time where thousands of people have been locked in their homes for the fear of spreading the novel coronavirus & its multiple strains, these spaces have made themselves COVID-safe, allowing people to meet other like-minded individuals within a safe space. This in turn reduces the feeling of loneliness, & makes people look forward to working beside other workers.
Opportunities to de-stress & disengage
Coworking spaces have built themselves to serve not only as a place of work but socialisation & health improvement as well. They offer services like dance classes, yoga sessions and meet-&-greet events. They may even have gyms installed to provide employees with a designated area to work out during their work hours. This gives working individuals a healthy space to get the dopamine, serotonin & endorphins rushing through their bodies, reducing sensations of pain, stress, and making them feel happier.
Co-work for a better you!
The expectation for this article is to provide you, my readers, with a better understanding of why coworking spaces are a healthy fit for your working style. With hybrid working styles coming in full force, these spaces can improve your productivity & your mindset, allowing you to be ready for any challenge come what may - professional & personal. It’s multitasking at its best. So is it worth it? Yes.