Mental Health & Remote Working: Strategies for a Healthy Balance

With May being Mental Health Awareness Month, I am reminded of the importance of understanding mental health and how it relates to the working environment. Working from home during the pandemic opened a new view for many of how work gets done.

As we emerge back into our (somewhat) regular routines, we are experiencing yet another shift as the future of work is changing. It is vital to consider the impacts on your mental health for the working options available, whether remote, hybrid, or working in the office.

Remote Work and Its Effect on Mental Health

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) conducted an online survey of 1,000 remote workers between March 26 and April 5, 2021. Many employees working from home say they experienced negative mental health impacts, including isolation, loneliness, and difficulty getting away from work at the end of the day. While there are certainly benefits and perks of working from home, it also means that more workers are feeling lonely and isolated.

My Work from Home Journey

I wanted to share how our Orange County CPA firm supports our professionals and advice for those working remotely or in a hybrid situation. I have chosen to work from home and navigate the new workplace dynamics during this exciting time of change!

Working from home allowed me to take on additional responsibilities from home, as my wife’s position required strict hours in the office. I was able to build some flexibility into my day as long as I met client demands. Excelling in client services means being available. As long as I could build this availability into my day while working remotely, I could also make time to take care of my family.  This certainly presents its own challenges as the responsibilities may extend into the evening hours. This requires discipline to stay on task, whether that task is taking care of the family members or getting actual work done for our Orange County CPA firm.

After reading this, I hope you gain a new idea or two to improve your working environment, whether in the office, hybrid, or remote. At Haskell & White, we recognize the evolving working environment. Companies that master the hybrid work environment have advantages over those that do not. While the remote working environment creates further flexibility in working arrangements, it also creates additional risks of isolation and potentially depression.

Strategies to protect your mental health while working remotely:

1. Utilize the mentoring programs your company has in place.

At Haskell & White, everybody at SD and OC CPA firm is assigned a Professional Development Counselor (PDC) responsible for their development path. This person helps us stay connected to our CPA team while mentoring us as we grow and advance in our careers. Constant touch points and check-ins between employees and their assigned coach/mentor are an essential part of the process. It is one of the critical functions of our professional development program. If your company does not have a mentorship process in place, ask for a mentor that can guide you in your career.

2. Take breaks and unwind.

Without your commute to break up your day, when do you decide to stop working? It is important to give your mind a break from work so that you can come back refreshed and ready to be productive. It’s important to make sure to stand or take a walk at regular intervals so you do not sit at the computer for a long time. Working at home does not naturally add a lot of walking to your day, so, make sure to build in those breaks to go outside and get some steps.

3. Connect with your co-workers.

At our Orange County CPA firm, we use Teams. The chat and video features are a great way to connect with others in the firm throughout the day. For those local to Orange County, we can attend in-person events and training sessions to balance working from home.

4. Create a routine.

Following a routine each day helps keep people organized. If you need to be away from work during the regular business day, make sure that time is reflected on your calendar so that co-workers know when you are available.

5. Prioritize self-care.

Make sure to schedule what you love or what makes you operate at your best. Schedule time to exercise, engage in social activities, or to invest in your hobbies.

6. Create a dedicated workspace.

It’s important to have a space set up with multiple monitors, a camera, and a microphone for video calls that are set up and ready to go for each workday. If you are fortunate enough to have a separate room for your home office, it can help you stay productive and focused. If you do not have a separate room, create a space dedicated to your work to create some separation from the other activities in the home.

7. Take time off.

It can be tempting to work all the time when you are at home, but it is vital to take vacations and time off to relax and rejuvenate. Make sure to schedule time away throughout the year and use that time to disconnect from work and focus on your personal life. Vacations and time off are crucial for maintaining good mental health.

I appreciate the flexibility to explore this uncharted territory of remote work and help others along the way as we work in a hybrid work environment.

If you are looking for a great opportunity to grow your career while maintaining your overall well-being, consider joining the Haskell & White team.