Working from Home and Managing Depression (Plus 5 Tips to Increase Remote Productivity)

Working from Home and Managing Depression (Plus 5 Tips to Increase Remote Productivity)

The aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic left a jumble of social and economic issues.  Some of the problems directly resulting from the pandemic are the increased remote working options that aren’t always as beneficial as they may seem for our mental well-being.  For example, those struggling with depression and other mental health issues may need to consider how to manage their symptoms and increase productivity.     

While some people find that working from home increases their productivity and benefits their depression management, others feel it can improve their symptoms of depression and stress.  Here are five tips to increase remote productivity while remotely working and managing depression: 

  1. Develop a schedule with your housemates/family 
  2. Create your workspace 
  3. Take distinct breaks
  4. Interact with other people
  5. Get rid of digital distractions

Managing symptoms of depression can be challenging, but these tips can help you feel more productive while working remotely.  Let’s take a deeper look at each of these tips to discover which techniques will work best for you and your lifestyle. 

Does Working Remotely Cause Depression? 

Remote work has become more of a norm since the COVID-19 pandemic required businesses and companies to limit unnecessary social contact.  While some only report the positive effects working from home can have, there are some concerns that it can harm individuals experiencing a mental health condition. 

While some report decreased symptoms of mental illness while working remotely, others say it increases feelings of depression, anxiety, stress, and loneliness. 

The pandemic's impact on everyday life's social and economic aspects is undeniable.  It’s also changed several routines and functionalities for the labor force across the globe. For example, a recent study conducted by the Department of Psychiatry of the University of Health Sciences in Istanbul, Turkey, found that the “prevalence of depression, anxiety, and stress was 17.9%, 19.6%, and 19.6% of the 459 sample participants, respectively.”  

Interestingly, one of the major predictors for depression among remote workers was being female. In addition, the study found a significantly higher increase in housework and working hours during the COVID-19 pandemic for women.  

Ultimately, though, determining the variables that can affect the mental health of remote workers is difficult because everyone has varying circumstances that may or may not increase their ability to thrive while working from home. 

Effects of Remote Work on Mental Health

There are both positive and negative effects of remote work on mental health.  The key is to consider the advantages and disadvantages and use them to determine your best working environment.  

Effects of remote work on mental health can include negative aspects such as weakened professional relationships, a lack of work-life balance, burnout, and fatigue.  On the other hand, though, there are some positive effects of remote work on mental health as well.  Positive effects include no commute, increased flexibility, and geographic freedom.

The following section will detail the potential effects of working from home on mental wellness.  

Weakened Professional Relationships

While some relationships can flourish without face-to-face contact, most human relationships require a certain amount of face-to-face interaction to generate feelings of satisfaction, clear communication, and healthy boundaries.  

Some remote employees report it weakened professional relationships and feel it is directly linked to their lack of physical presence in the traditional office setting.

Building healthy relationships is a critical component of most employment positions, especially as most professional careers rely on collaborative workflows to accomplish projects, tasks, and daily operations.   

Lack of Work-Life Balance

Some people also say it’s hard to maintain a work-life balance when their home is also their office.  Blending one’s home with one’s place of work can also blur the lines of our personal and professional lives.  

This lack of work-life balance can leave individuals feeling drained, stressed, anxious, and depressed.  

Burnout and Fatigue

Because the intersection between personal and professional lives can blur, it can cause employees to overwork.  When there are no clear beginning and end times, work time can become all the time, creating unhappiness and a lack of motivation. 

No Commute 

On the other hand, there are numerous benefits to working from home, and one of the most apparent benefits is the 0 commute time.  If you enjoy the benefits of working from home, you also likely enjoy sipping your morning coffee in your pj's while your colleagues are fighting in rush hour traffic.  

Increased Flexibility

While some remote workers feel like the work never ends, others find an increasingly flexible schedule that allows them to better meet the demands of many aspects of their life, from their careers to parenthood to homeownership.  

Geographic Freedom

Another positive result of working remotely is your geographic freedom.  No longer are we bound to our brick-and-mortar offices.  Since the pandemic, many professions have realized the potential to break geographic barriers to filling open positions, diversifying teams, and innovative practices. 

5 Tips to Increase Remote Productivity 

If working remotely is something you have to do or something you want to pursue, the following tips can help you increase your productivity levels:

  1. Create a schedule and stick to it 
  2. Eliminate digital distractions
  3. Take breaks   
  4. Create a designated workspace
  5. Communicate expectations clearly and early on   

Let’s dive into each of these tips in more detail.

  1. Create a Schedule and Stick To It 

One thing that makes people more productive is creating a schedule and making it a habit.  According to this article from Forbes, 60% of employees reported working from home at least a few days a month, and, as discussed in this article, there are positives and negatives to remote work.  One struggle people report is being able to get away from work for personal time.  One way to avoid this challenge is by setting a schedule.

Be consistent in your schedule. For example, set the alarm, wake up simultaneously, and create a workflow routine with regularly scheduled breaks and a designated end time.    

  1. Eliminate Digital Distractions

Often, it’s easier to get distracted by the various screens in our lives when we’re working remotely than at the office.  This also fits in with your schedule setting.  Once you have your work schedule set, don’t get trapped in the constant social media scrolling or binge-watching your new favorite flick when you’re supposed to be “on the clock.”  

While you don’t need to distance yourself from social media or television entirely, like anything else, moderation is key.  It’s OK to keep and maintain a social media presence if you want to, but it’s not healthy to obsess over people and posts you scroll through online.  Remember that these are snapshots of people’s lives and often don’t incorporate every aspect of someone’s life or situation.     

  1. Take Breaks 

Taking breaks from work is essential, regardless of your working environment.  Regular intervals allow our minds and bodies to restore themselves and increase productivity.  

Plan at least two fifteen-minute breaks within an eight-hour workday to stretch, have a snack, hydrate, and put space between you and your work.    

  1. Create a Designated Workspace

When you’re working from home, creating a workspace solely designated for you and your work is critical.  The lack of a designated workspace can blur the lines between work and personal time. In addition, if you’re working where you’re also relaxing or enjoying time with your family, it can also make it easy for you to become distracted.  

Set aside a space that is just for you to work at.  Make it your own, even if you don’t have a lot of room to work with, and make it comfortable for your line of work.  

Consider ergonomic factors when you’re setting up your workspace at home.  For example, if you like to alternate between standing and sitting while you work, you may want to invest in a standing/sitting computer stand.    

  1. Communicate Expectations Clearly and Early On

As soon as you accept a remote working position, communicate the expectations for you and of you to your family and household members, colleagues, and supervisors.  Everyone needs to be on the same page concerning your work schedule, space, communication methods, and other relevant aspects of your work.

Don’t wait until a conflict arises to communicate your expectations or share your supervisors' expectations with you.  If you plan on long-term success in your remote position, communication is critical in more forms than just email.

Arrange for regular face-to-face engagements with colleagues and supervisors, make phone calls, and use chat-based communications.  A variety of communication methods will reach a wider audience and set you up to create positive relationships, avoid interpersonal conflicts, and have a successful remote working experience.     


12 nov