A new work anxiety: Will I be penalized for working from home? (2022)

Nitin Budhiraja discovered during the pandemic that he loved working from home. He now works fully remotely. Nitin Budhiraja hide caption

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Nitin Budhiraja

A new work anxiety: Will I be penalized for working from home? (2)

Nitin Budhiraja discovered during the pandemic that he loved working from home. He now works fully remotely.

Nitin Budhiraja

Jenn Ramirez Robson has been working remotely since the pandemic started.

Now, as more people are returning to the office or offered the choice of working from home, she's still working remotely. But every once in a while, she gets worried about being left out at work.

"All of my meetings are still on Zoom or Teams, but I do feel that sense that I should go into the office at least once a week," says Ramirez Robson, who works at Northwest Center, a disability nonprofit.

In the "new normal" hybrid workplace, are remote and in-person workers going to be treated equally? It's a matter of hot debate right now, with many workers like Ramirez Robson wondering if they would be sacrificing promotions if they choose not to come into the office. One top Wall Street CEO waded right into that conversation.

"If you want a job, stay remote all the time," says Rich Handler, CEO of the investment banking company Jefferies. "If you want a career, engage with the rest of us in the office ... No judgment on which you pick, but don't be surprised or disappointed by certain outcomes."

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Handler was responding to a post on Instagram from a widely followed account @wallstreetconfessions, which said that investment banking layoffs were coming and that managers would soon have to judge who was worth keeping. "Now is the time to be visibly value-added — and showing up to the office every day is a big part of that," the post said. It got more than 130 comments and Handler's own comment generated another 40 replies.

It's a hot topic that is starting to generate a lot of anxiety. The pandemic has upended traditional work structures and hybrid options are far more common than they used to be. According to Indeed's Hiring Lab, about 10% of jobs posted on its site in May this year were advertised as remote, more than three times the amount before the pandemic.

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"My career isn't the most important thing right now...I want a life"

Several chief executives, including Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon and Tesla boss Elon Musk, say going into the office is key to learning, being part of a culture and a higher level of performance. Both want their workers in the office five days a week.

Most career experts agree that there are distinct advantages from more face time and collaboration with coworkers. But some people are willing to give that up for other benefits that they get from working remote, according to Anita Bruzzese, who writes a workplace and career column.

"There are going to be some people who believe the trade-off is worth it, who say my career isn't the most important thing right now," Bruzzese says. "I want to travel, I want a life, I want to train for a marathon, I want to raise my family — so I am willing to make that trade-off."

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Others say, why should I be penalized for working from home?

However, some say people shouldn't be penalized for choosing to work from home. Fatimata Cham, a campus recruiting intern at Bloomberg, is working five days a week in the New York office. Her internship didn't offer a remote or hybrid option.

"I think there are a lot of benefits to being in person early on in my career, because I can figure out if this is something I really want to do," she says. "If I'm willing to come in five days for it, like, it must be something I'm passionate about."

Fatimata Cham enjoys going into the Bloomberg office five days a week. But she might want to take a remote job someday. Fatimata Cham hide caption

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Fatimata Cham

A new work anxiety: Will I be penalized for working from home? (7)

Fatimata Cham enjoys going into the Bloomberg office five days a week. But she might want to take a remote job someday.

Fatimata Cham

Still, Cham says she would be open to taking a remote job later and her career shouldn't suffer because of it. She thinks the pandemic has forced a shift in people's priorities to focus more on wellness. And she doesn't think remote work is going away.

It's important to note there is no one-size-fits-all approach to hybrid work. Many advocates say it depends on what industry they're in. Allen Ishibashi works in real estate for a regional parks district in California. He started working remotely when the pandemic started and found it "fantastic."

"For the nature of work, what I do — which is probably 90% paperwork in the office and 10% out in the field looking at properties — it worked really well for me," he says.

Ishibashi is back in the office three days a week, and he doesn't think it should be harder for him — or any remote worker — to advance in their career.

Penalties may pose a problem in fostering a more diverse workplace

With remote work becoming more widespread during the pandemic, there's no doubt that in some fields it has led to greater flexibility and even more opportunities. People can find jobs outside of their city, and companies can actually increase diversity if they're looking beyond the pool of people who live where the office is. Studies show that a variety of voices leads to a stronger organization.

Allen Ishibashi works at a regional parks department in California. He started working remotely during the pandemic and liked it a lot. Allen Ishibashi hide caption

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Allen Ishibashi

A new work anxiety: Will I be penalized for working from home? (9)

Allen Ishibashi works at a regional parks department in California. He started working remotely during the pandemic and liked it a lot.

Allen Ishibashi

But there are worries that hybrid policies could hinder efforts at corporate diversity.

Younger people are more likely to want more in-person time than their older colleagues. Women, people of color and working parents are more likely to want to work from home or in a hybrid format, according to a study from January of this year. Disability advocates, like Ramirez Robson, caution that people with disabilities may also be left behind in a hybrid workplace.

Jenn Ramirez Robson works from home with her office companion, Dickens. Kevin Ramirez hide caption

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Kevin Ramirez

A new work anxiety: Will I be penalized for working from home? (11)
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Jenn Ramirez Robson works from home with her office companion, Dickens.

Kevin Ramirez

"If there's already a skew in who's working remotely — there's a demographic pattern — we want to be extra aware" of dynamics that may be reinforced by any bias for in-person workers, says Heidi Brooks, who teaches at Yale's School of Management.

For some people like Cham, who are early in their careers, remote work can feel isolating. They prefer working in the office so they can easily learn the ins and outs of their roles.

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However, people who have established careers and have learned the ropes already tend to find remote work more appealing. That raises the question of whether the careers of these people could stall at a time when they're ready to take on more leadership roles.

'Hybrid guilt' is a thing

Darren Murph, the head of remote at open source software company GitLab, believes the key to mitigating these disparities is to have either everybody or nobody in the office. That way, there's no chance for people who work in person to have better access to information and meetings while remote workers are left out. It also removes what Murph calls "hybrid guilt," where remote workers feel like they should be going into the office.

Nitin Budhiraja felt that way at his last job, where he questioned whether he should be going in, even though he was a remote worker. He worked at an advertising agency that was supportive of remote work. But there was some tension when he found out that one of the senior managers on his team was often in the office.

"That often made me wonder, should I be commuting to the office? Should I be going in?" Budhiraja says.

Sometimes the people who worked in the office would make decisions that he and other remote colleagues found out about later. Budhiraja said it wasn't intentional and the discomfort didn't cause major problems for him at work.

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Still, when the opportunity arose to move to a company where everybody was working remotely, he jumped at it. He says remote work has made the quality of his work better, and given him more time to focus on himself and his family.

Murph from GitLab says the conversation focuses too much on where workers physically are, and not on how they're best able to work. He says the question to ask now isn't, "Where are people working," but "How does work happen?"

As for the @wallstreetconfessions Instagram account, it is run by Ri Sharma, who works at the fintech startup Allio Finance. People from the financial industry send in anonymous messages and she chooses what to post on the account, which has 134,000 followers.

Sharma says she direct messaged the Jefferies CEO after his post about looking at working from home versus the office as a choice between a job versus career. She says she understands his point of view as someone who runs a large institution, but she's on the side of people who want to work from home: "I'm personally my most productive when I have the option."

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FAQs

Is working from home causing anxiety? ›

Work from home depression can happen when you feel stuck. Without career milestones like a new nameplate on your desk or a fancy corner office, you may not feel as if you're achieving as much as your peers. The anxiety, stress, and loneliness of working from home can lead to depression or make it worse.

What should you not do working from home? ›

Consider the following to determine if there are any adjustments you can make to your work-life blend.
  • Lowering Your Productivity. ...
  • Always Being in Work Mode. ...
  • Not Setting Boundaries. ...
  • Assuming You Won't Need Childcare. ...
  • Not Setting up a Home Office. ...
  • Not Establishing a Routine. ...
  • Failing to Communicate. ...
  • Ignoring Your Health.

How do I deal with anxiety from working at home? ›

To start to de-program ourselves from the need to always be on, we need to practice being disconnected for small amounts of time. Begin with a time limit. Pick an after-hours moment when you don't need to be online, and then turn off or hide your devices for an hour. Gradually work towards doing this during a workday.

Why am I so stressed working from home? ›

Challenges facing professionals working from home include reliance on technologies, like teleconferencing and Zoom. In addition to the stress some experience from having to learn new skills, the virtual communication reduces much-needed personal contact and can contribute to anxiety and depression.

Is working from home better or worse for mental health? ›

In a survey conducted by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) in 2021, the majority of employees working remotely reported a decline in their mental health. Respondents cited isolation, loneliness, and difficulty getting away from work at the end of the day as drawbacks to working from home.

How does Wfh affect mental health? ›

It causes a sudden increase in your psychological and emotional workload.” This all amounts to heightening stress and anxiety levels, which is bad for both long term employee wellbeing and company productivity.

Can I take breaks when working from home? ›

Reasons to take breaks when working remotely

Energy boost: Breaks, particularly those that engage the body or mind in an activity unrelated to your work, can provide you with higher energy levels. Increased motivation: After a break, you might feel more motivated to continue working on your assignments.

How do you discipline yourself when working from home? ›

Here are 5 ways to keep yourself disciplined during work from the home season.
  1. 1) Have A Schedule. Self-discipline starts with having a plan and sticking to it. ...
  2. 2) Take Regular Breaks. ...
  3. 3) Dress Like You Are Dressed In Office. ...
  4. 4) Create A Work Environment. ...
  5. 5) Maintaining Your Health.
6 Jul 2020

Is working from home worth it? ›

You are truly independent.

It's much more than just the benefit of getting to work in your pajamas. Working from home means you'll learn to rely on self-motivation, self-discipline, focus, and concentration. “As you work through your career, those are really critical components for success,” says Fay.

How do I not let work affect my home life? ›

Below are five tips for keeping work stress from becoming home stress.
  1. Confine your work to particular times and locations. ...
  2. Develop good mobile device habits. ...
  3. Establish a good support network. ...
  4. Have an end-of-work habit. ...
  5. Create a third space.
28 Jul 2016

How do I get rid of work anxiety? ›

7 Ways to Manage Anxiety About Work
  1. Signs of work anxiety.
  2. Zoom out.
  3. Set limits.
  4. Work with yourself.
  5. Lean into self-care.
  6. Talk with a professional.
  7. Remember, it's OK not to be 100%
  8. Try something new.

How do I calm down my anxiety at work? ›

15 ways you can calm nerves at work
  1. Try deep breathing. ...
  2. Channel your nervous energy into positivity. ...
  3. Practice the task you are nervous about. ...
  4. Listen to music - especially any tunes that remind you of positive moments or induce happy feelings. ...
  5. Speak to someone you trust about how you feel.
28 Aug 2019

Is working from home good for people with depression? ›

For some people, working from home improves mental health or has no impact on existing depression symptoms. For others, working from home could add symptoms to the list, including anxiety and chronic stress.

Are people working from home happier? ›

A survey by mental health research website Tracking Happiness found that the ability to work remotely is positively correlated with employee happiness. Fully remote workers reported a happiness level roughly 20% higher than those who worked in the office 100% of the time.

Should I work-from-home or go to office? ›

Several studies over the past few months show productivity while working remotely from home is better than working in an office setting. On average, those who work from home spend 10 minutes less a day being unproductive, work one more day a week, and are 47% more productive.

What is the main symptoms of anxiety? ›

Common anxiety signs and symptoms include:
  • Feeling nervous, restless or tense.
  • Having a sense of impending danger, panic or doom.
  • Having an increased heart rate.
  • Breathing rapidly (hyperventilation)
  • Sweating.
  • Trembling.
  • Feeling weak or tired.
  • Trouble concentrating or thinking about anything other than the present worry.

Is remote work unhealthy? ›

But new research into remote work and wellbeing has shown mixed results – in Microsoft's 2022 New Future of Work Report, researchers found that although remote work can improve job satisfaction, it can also lead to employees feeling “socially isolated, guilty and trying to overcompensate”

How many breaks do you get working from home? ›

Working safely with display screen equipment

Take short breaks often, rather than longer ones less often. For example 5 to 10 minutes every hour is better than 20 minutes every 2 hours. Ideally, users should be able to choose when to take breaks.

How many breaks should you take at a desk it job? ›

Magazine suggests a break every 60–90 minutes. According to the time-tracking app, Desktime, the most productive people work for 52 minutes, then take a break for 17 minutes. The Pomodoro Technique advises working for 25 minutes followed by a 3 to 5-minute break, and then a 15 to 30-minute break every 90 minutes or so.

How long should you work before taking a break? ›

You're usually entitled to: a 30 minute rest break if you work for more than 4 hours and 30 minutes in a day. 12 hours rest between each working day. 2 rest days per week.

What are the best days to work from home? ›

Wednesday wins out

According to a Build Remote survey, Wednesday is by far the most popular day to work from home.

What is your biggest Wfh struggle? ›

Collaboration While WFH

Collaboration is the biggest challenge that most remote organizations face. When employees work from the same office, they can interact with each other easily without any limitations.

What is the most challenging part of working from home? ›

Security. One of the biggest challenges of home working has been maintaining network security. Over half the businesses we asked said they now feel more vulnerable to security threats due to the increased use of personal devices for work during lockdown.

Can you get depressed working from home? ›

Research shows that working remotely has the potential to increase symptoms of depression.

How can I work from home without going crazy? ›

How do you not go crazy when working from home?
  1. Wake up at (or around) the same time every morning. ...
  2. Wake up earlier than five minutes before your first meeting. ...
  3. Set some time aside in the morning to clean. ...
  4. Replicate commute time before and after work. ...
  5. Work when you're the most productive.

Does working from home cause loneliness? ›

Buffer found that loneliness is the biggest challenge remote workers are facing, and new research from Dan Schawbel echoes those findings.

What is the main symptoms of anxiety? ›

Common anxiety signs and symptoms include:
  • Feeling nervous, restless or tense.
  • Having a sense of impending danger, panic or doom.
  • Having an increased heart rate.
  • Breathing rapidly (hyperventilation)
  • Sweating.
  • Trembling.
  • Feeling weak or tired.
  • Trouble concentrating or thinking about anything other than the present worry.

How do you deal with remote working? ›

5 Coping Tips for Combatting Remote Work Loneliness
  1. Set an alarm. Resist the urge to hit snooze.
  2. Keep your morning habits the same as if you were going into the office. ...
  3. Put. ...
  4. Turn on your camera. ...
  5. Plan regular meetings. ...
  6. Protect your off-the-clock time.

Is it healthy to work from home? ›

The most common health effects associated with telework relate to musculoskeletal problems, stress, increased work, and isolation or depression [13].

Why is working at home better? ›

They found that working from home improves work-life balance, increases productivity and fosters healthier lifestyles. It's a win-win situation that workers relish for its flexibility. We'll look at how working from home boosts productivity and how to stay efficient while managing working relationships remotely.

What is stir crazy symptoms? ›

Some refer to it as cabin fever. Others call it going stir-crazy.
...
Tell-tale Signs (aka Potential Stir Crazy Symptoms)
  • Restlessness – finding it difficult to sit and concentrate for long periods.
  • Sadness or depression.
  • Decreased motivation.
  • Changes in weight or appetite.
  • Losing your patience and snapping at people.

Is remote work unhealthy? ›

But new research into remote work and wellbeing has shown mixed results – in Microsoft's 2022 New Future of Work Report, researchers found that although remote work can improve job satisfaction, it can also lead to employees feeling “socially isolated, guilty and trying to overcompensate”

Are remote workers happier? ›

A survey by mental health research website Tracking Happiness found that the ability to work remotely is positively correlated with employee happiness. Fully remote workers reported a happiness level roughly 20% higher than those who worked in the office 100% of the time.

Do remote workers feel disconnected? ›

Working From Home and Feeling Disconnected

Yes, and the statistics might shock you. Research by HowNow discovered that over two-thirds of workers (67%) feel 'disconnected' from their colleagues and 42% feel 'lonely' at work.

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1. Fines, WDOs and Quarantine fees in the time of COVID-19 - an update July 2021
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