There’s no denying that working from home has its benefits.
Who doesn’t like the idea of getting paid to lounge on the couch in your PJs, blasting goth metal and eating leftover Pizza Rolls?
There’s no judging happening here.
If you’re reading this at the office and feeling jealous of your home-based peers, I have some news that might make you feel better about your life choices.
People who work from home are generally more stressed out, work longer hours and can’t sleep.
But don’t take my word for it.
A joint report by the UN International Labour Organization (ILO) and Eurofund says teleworking is associated with “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.”
I Left My Work-Life Balance at the Office
Researchers say one of the main reasons remote working heightens stress and sleeplessness is because it’s really hard to separate yourself from your job when your office is in your home.
Even if you just use a laptop propped on the living room coffee table, it’s difficult not to think about work when you have to pass your “desk” to get to the bathroom, kitchen or bedroom.
As a result, work hours tend to bleed into personal time, even though working outside normal or contractual business hours is typically unpaid, researchers say.
Working for free is bound to stress anyone out.
To be clear, the survey doesn’t suggest companies pressure work-from-home employees to add extra hours to their day. In fact, researchers acknowledge many organizations actively encourage remote workers to find a good work-life balance.
In other words, we do this to ourselves.
Message Me, Maybe
What’s the answer? Well, you don’t have to trudge to the office every day to be all zen during your off hours.
Jon Messenger, co-author of the report, says, “the use of modern communication technologies facilitates a better overall work-life balance.”
Here at The Penny Hoarder, our teams use an internal messaging system on our computers and phones that allow us to stay connected during the workday, no matter where we are.
Since most of us work from home at least once a week, it’s a great way to stay involved with our teams and still be comfortable enough to shut down at the end of the day, just as if we’d been in the office.
(Want to know a secret? The Penny Hoarder staff likes our communication system, so we offen message each other even when we’re actually in the office. I haven’t used my vocal cords in two days.)
Find Your Work-Life Balance
If your company doesn’t use messaging platforms to keep workers connected, you can still carve out your own way to keep insomnia and stress at bay.
Whether you have a dedicated home office or just work from a corner of the couch, set your hours (with your boss’s approval) and stick to them.
When your work day is over, sign out and shut down. Stow your laptop or workstation somewhere it won’t quietly call out to you until bedtime.
If you have a home office in a spare room, close the door — all the way.
The best thing you can do for yourself and your employer is to take care of your own well-being. That means reducing stress, getting enough sleep, and ignoring the siren call of doing “just one more thing” during off-work hours.
Your turn: What’s your favorite work-from-home wellness trick?
Lisa McGreevy is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She once stuffed her company-issued laptop in the linen closet to keep from tackling “just one more thing” before bed. It didn’t work.