- This month a Google employee posted a poll on the social network Blind asking employees if remote work was hurting their mental health.
- More than 9,700 employees of different companies responded, with two-thirds saying they were feeling stressed by working from home.
- The companies where the most employees feel remote work is hurting their mental health are Yelp, Facebook, PayPal, and Yahoo. The companies where the fewest employees feel remote work stress are Snapchat, Workday, and T-Mobile.
- The more than 600 comments on the poll provide a fascinating window into home offices with some feeling stressed, some enjoying remote work, and some fine with remote work but disliking quarantined life overall.
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In early July, an apparent Google employee posted a survey on the anonymous social network Blind asking a simple question: “Is WFH hurting your mental health?”
The poll quickly racked up responses and comments, with two-thirds of the more than 9,700 employees answering that yes, it was.
In order to join Blind, you must use a work email, which then marks you on the platform as an employee of that company (though it’s possible to keep an account active even after you’ve left). Based on responses, the companies where the most employees feel remote work is hurting their mental health are Yelp, Facebook, PayPal, and Yahoo, with more than 80% of employees each. Snapchat, Workday, and T-Mobile, meanwhile, ranked lowest, with fewer than 55% of respondents at each saying that yes, it was affecting their mental health.
Generally, Blind posts its own polls, so the fact that a Google employee asked this one is unique, the company said, describing the more than 600 comments as “free-flow emotional responses [that] show how personal all these obstacles feel.”
The most-liked comment posted in response to the poll was from an engineer at Microsoft, who wrote: “The extended working hours and no line between home and work are certainly hurting.” It garnered 145 likes.
The next-most-liked comment reflected a different common sentiment. An engineer at Algorand, a Boston firm that helps companies use blockchain wrote: “The office was never a place of socialization for me. I’d say this isolation is hurting my mental health, sure, but WFH isn’t the key. WFH has been a blessing honestly. Screw offices.” That post received 129 likes.
Many of the comments fell into three main categories:
Feeling the strain
- A Siemens employee wrote: “I think everyone is starting to feel the pinch. The sad thing is no one knows when this is going to end. That’s the most frustrating part.” (54 likes)
- A Yelp engineer employee wrote: “Yeah, it is. I feel like I might be developing PTSD from everything that’s going on. I like having the *option* to WFH. I hate being *forced* to do so. Not being able to really go anywhere or do anything doesn’t help, either. Add in the rest of 2020, and I’m just about ready to say f*** it and peace out for a year or so, except that’s my mind writing checks my bank account literally can’t cash.” (14 likes)
- A Facebook employee wrote: “I just struggle being alone all day. Feel so down and lonely. (26 likes)
- An Amazon worker wrote: “Yes. I’ve had mental health issues in the past but it’s definitely worse. The social aspect of going into work was more important than I realized.” (11 likes)
- An Apple employee wrote: “I am much less productive working from home, and thus have to work longer hours, and most of my waking hours are focused on work. So there is no more work/life balance.” (10 likes)
Loving remote work
- A tech operations worker at Lyft wrote: “I’m loving the WFH. I eat better cause I cook my own food, I can take my 1 HR nap on days I need it, don’t need to do Starbucks run, I don’t need to throw headphones on to avoid small talks while jamming, and I don’t have to use public restroom. Productivity is exactly the same with less stress. So yeah, all good here.” (18 likes)
- A Hulu worker wrote: “WFH is great. Shorter more intentional working hours. Not having to see people you don’t want to see. Dealing with way less microaggressions. Can say mental health has gone up 🙂 (14 likes)
- A worker at the self-driving car company Aurora wrote: “I enjoy seeing my wife hrs everyday and helping her when she sees a spider.” (17 likes)
- A Box worked noted a frequent theme among those enjoying remote work – not having to commute: “Nope, commute was killing my mental health far worse. Never want to go back to office.” (18 likes)
- A Raytheon worker wrote: “Far more productive WFH. Never gave a sh** about what coworkers did last weekend or their sh***y kids. I come to work for work, not to make friends. Have enough of those and most coworkers are pretty boring. If you can’t make friends and have a social life that doesn’t involve coworkers, that’s pretty telling. (14 likes)
Liking remote work, but not COVID-19
- A Salesforce engineer wrote: “For me, working from home is fine. It’s the closing of all my social outlets (friends, gym, sports, etc.) that were typically my outlet that is getting to me.” (13 likes)
- A Vodaphone employee wrote: “WFH is one of the best things. However the corona and the lockdown is the only thing driving us crazy. If last year was WFH, I would’ve worked from the beach, cafe, village, forest – anywhere any place. By the way, I commuted 3hrs each day to get to and from work :/. (13 likes)
- A Capital One developer wrote: “Is work from home hurting mental health or complete social distancing including outside of work hurting mental health? I think pre/post covid you’d get a very different answer. Work from home is awesome. Being trapped in your home without any social activities is not.” (10 likes)
- An Apple employee wrote: “Yes and no. It’s hell with kids, but I’ve lost 16 pounds and am working out every morning. So if Covid doesn’t kill me, it’ll make me live longer.” (13 likes)
Experts say the shift to remote work has meant a significant adjustment.
“Working in unusual environments can be stressful and distracting,” Stanford psychology professor Jeff Hancock wrote in a recent report about stress and online communications. “Prior to the pandemic, people were used to operating in distinct spaces — home, work, social — and we had different ways of understanding the world in each space. The events of 2020 mean these spaces have blurred, and we’ve had to quickly learn new ways of operating.”
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