As someone who worked from home for the past year (until recently), I was met with a similar reaction from most people I told people about my work situation. “Wow, that must be amazing!” they would say, a mix of envy and curiosity in their eyes. This was especially the case when I met 9-5 media people at morning events, and they would traipse off to the office in their heels, while I would go home to work under a warm blanket. My response to these people would always go a little something like this: “Yes, I love it, but it’s definitely not for everyone.”
While I thought working at home was for me, I recently discovered that this wasn’t the case. You see, I’m an introverted homebody through and through, and an extremely self-driven and independent worker. So, getting stuff done at home was never a problem for me, nor was working alone.
However, after about a year I found that it was becoming extremely difficult to seperate life and work and that not being around people much had made me really intolerant to other people’s annoying habits (oh hey there, person breathing loudly on the bus). Not only that, but the slightest road bump (ie. a snarky email from a client) seemed like a HUGE deal, as I had nobody to vent to or to tell me it was NBD.
There’s new research to suggest why working from home isn’t for me, or for many other people. A new study published in European Journal of Work and Organisational Psychology showed that for certain personality types, working from home can negatively affect your mental health and stress levels. The study surveyed 403 working adults to measure their autonomy (level of independence),emotional stability, and strain (exhaustion, disengagement, and dissatisfaction).
The results showed that those who high emotional stability and autonomy thrive working from home, while those who have high levels of job autonomy and lower levels of emotional stability are likely to end up anxious and stress. While I’m very autonomous, I wouldn’t rate emotional resilience as my strongest suit, so I can definitely relate to these findings.
“If something stressful happens at work, a person who is high on emotional stability would take it in stride, remain positive, and figure out how to address it,” said the study’s lead author Sara Perry, PhD. “A person low on emotional stability might get frustrated and discouraged, expending energy with those emotions instead of on the issue at hand.”
The research showed that although the job flexibility could be beneficial to people with this personality type, working from home could do more harm than good. In my case, I eventually realised that it wasn’t working from home I loved, but not being stuck in an office from 9-5—hence why I now have a permanent desk in a co-working space, that I can come and go from as I please.