In the midst of the current lockdown many people are now working from home in order to provide a degree of business continuity. This is a business trend which was mentioned many years ago but has yet to really hit the heights that numerous experts had predicted. However, those who suffer from phobias and anxiety may find that working from home reduces their stress levels. There may also be other benefits which we will cover below.
Safe stress free working environment
While the perception that working from home offers a stress free environment is down to the individual, there is evidence to suggest this can be extremely helpful for those suffering from phobias and anxiety. It is also sensible to have a separate working area, maybe an office in the garden or a separate room, if you do decide to work from home in the longer term. It is also very important to maintain the structure of a “working day” which will include breaks, lunch and working only sociable hours. It is also important to resist the temptation to work extra hours because this could impact stress levels which could bring on phobia/anxiety issues.
It doesn’t take a genius to recognise that when working in a less stressful environment, especially for those who suffer from anxiety, there is significant potential to maximise work output. Yes, individuals will still need to remain focused, on the ball and on topic but as long as they maintain a workday structure there is every chance they could significantly increase their output. There are a number of additional knock-on effects to this scenario:-
- The feelgood factor – more work output
- Job security – of more value to your employer
- Increased sales/income – obvious value to employer
We can only imagine the number of employees working in busy offices who could see a significant increase in their output if only they had the opportunity to work from home.
Avoiding stressful situations
Those who suffer from phobias and anxiety often talk about stressful situations bringing on these two conditions. If we flip the coin, there are situations where a degree of stress will encourage, motivate and ultimately help people but not necessarily everyone. It can be relatively tricky finding that balance between motivation and pushing an individual too far, especially those suffering from phobias and anxiety. Some of the more common stressful situations which can be avoided by working from home include:-
Unfortunately, while it can often be good to have colleagues around you to confer with and discuss ideas, many workplace antics are not good for those suffering from anxiety. The constant backstabbing, name-calling and professional jealousy are often overlooked by management as banter. Whether a more direct approach to this type of activity would enhance and increase productivity is obviously a very popular subject for discussion.
Journey to work
While many people are able to switch off during their journey to work, whether by train, car or bus this is not always easy for those suffering anxiety and phobias. By the time sufferers actually make it to work they can be in such a worked up state that it can take some time to “come down”. This may not necessarily be visible to colleagues and employers but even the daily journey to and from work can “wear down” some people.
In many cases it does depend upon what type of work you carry out but those who suffer social phobias may well be better off working from home. This gives them the opportunity to speak with colleagues on the telephone Skype and via email while maintaining their own little cocoon of safety/comfort. As a business, if there is no need for your staff to integrate and socialise every day, then this may be a consideration especially if it increases productivity and quality of work.
Some people aren’t team players
The simple fact is that many employees simply are not team players and employers will get the best out of them by letting them “go it alone”. This is not to suggest that they have a blank canvas on which to start their work, they will still need guidance, but from the guidance stage to the productivity stage they can do that effectively in isolation.
Accommodating phobia and anxiety sufferers
While we are not aware of any legal regulations stipulating that those suffering from phobias and anxiety must be “accommodated” in the workplace, there are such regulations for those with mental and physical disabilities. It does beg the question, as the workplace obviously needs a variety of different personalities and skills, should the authorities be looking at a degree of protection for phobia and anxiety sufferers?
It is also worth noting that not every business requires the same skills, personalities and even teamwork. For example, creative businesses tend to be based upon individual input as opposed to a team effort. Then when you look at things like investment advice, in many ways the power is in the collective opinions of numerous individuals, inside and outside of the firm.
Removing peripheral distractions
When we strip out all of the comments and opinions, the fact is that as a business you will receive the greatest output and quality of work from employees by removing peripheral distractions. Whether this is distractions in the workplace or, in the case of phobia and anxiety sufferers, the removal of stressful situations, surely this must be worth some consideration?
There is no doubt that only those who have suffered phobias and anxiety issues will fully understand the challenges of everyday life. Something as simple as a journey to the office can be terrifying and ultimately have an impact upon at least part of their working day. As a consequence this will impact their level of output and in some cases their quality of output. So, this does beg the question, should businesses look to encourage working from home amongst those who suffer in more traditional work settings?
As this decision will ultimately be based upon finances, taking into account our comments above, it must surely warrant serious consideration?