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All work and no play: Isolated from colleagues, work from home becoming a stressful activity

Published : Apr 4, 2020, 1:16 pm IST
Updated : Apr 4, 2020, 1:16 pm IST

Techies end up working more from home, neglecting their physical and mental health

Work from home is taking a toll on the mind and body.
 Work from home is taking a toll on the mind and body.

Chennai: Work from home promised to be easier in some ways—no long, tiresome commute, more time for leisure. But the reality, IT professionals who are working from home say, is starkly different.

Stress has been mounting because managers do not trust their staff to do the work when at home, and watch them like a hawk, constantly calling or monitoring them through mails and apps. This stress pushes employees to prove a point, driving them to labour on, without much-needed breaks.

Earlier it was a 10 to 5 job, says a techie from Ramapuram here, with short breaks in between to stretch one’s legs. But since he began working from home, the workload has doubled. He starts early morning with an assignment from his boss already in his inbox.

“I work for at least 10 hours now,” he said. In his 10 years of experience, he has never faced such a situation. Working from home, he ends up not taking breaks, just concentrating on finishing the work. And the stress is building.

Yet the bosses can’t be blamed, said another IT professional. “They are only sharing the pressure they get from the top,” the person said.

In addition to the mental stress, the body takes a beating. The fitness regime he maintained for years has collapsed, another techie said.

“When you work in an office, there is a time table that dictates how you work,” he said. “But that goes for a toss when you start working from home.” With no colleagues to share a thought with there is no inclination to a break either, he explained. It takes a toll on the mind and body.   

Yet, he is very aware of being lucky compared to many people who have lost their jobs or have it worse. “The lockdown has already brought a lot of uncertainty among private firm employees. We still don’t know what is its long-term consequence will be,” he said.

Most workers are just waiting to go back to their offices once the lockdown is lifted. But the lockdown itself could be extended, or strict measures may be kept in place, which could extend the work from home period.

Fitness advisors say it is important to be mindful of one’s fitness in these circumstances. “If you feel pain or uneasiness on your spine, ankles, ears or eyes, you should consult with your health and safety advisor,” a fitness guide said.

He said spine support is important for those working on computers for long hours. It would be best to use comfortable, height-adjustable swivel chairs with five roller wheels, armrest and back-support. Without ergonomically designed chairs, one’s spine could crash by the end of the lockdown, the fitness trainer warned. 

There are of course some steps one can take to prevent it. Stand up every hour, walk and stretch for a few minutes. This will ease some of the strain on the spine.

If your eyes feel strained, close your eyes for a few minutes to give them some respite from the light of the computer screen.

Fitness advisor Neeraja Janaki pointed out that some homes may not have air conditioning whereas most offices do. The rising summer temperature would make working from home more uncomfortable. She advised those without air conditioners at home to clear out the room as much as possible and create space, to make things slightly more comfortable.

Tags: lockdown, work from home, work stress, fitness