Routines take time to set in, but once they do breaking them can feel painful. When working from home first took effect at the beginning of 2020, the impact of changing work-life routines was hit hard. The fatigue of working from home, and its isolation created stressors and new challenges amongst the world population. Many articles around rejuvenating while working from home and tools to help individuals be effective poured out in the early months of the pandemic. But then it happened, that phenomenon psychologists and therapist often speak of, when the tide turns and the change we were skeptical and worried about sets in. People all around the world began to accept and utilize this new form of working.
Now as companies, and employers move to head back into the office, that same feeling of change is creeping back in and its met with the same forms of anxiety and dread. Many are looking to find jobs where working from home is still an option. Companies are looking at building hybrid programs and a new age of work and home is being created.
What can we expect from the workforce as things return to in person?
As individuals seek to create a healthier work/life balance many have found that working from home helped foster some healthier life choices. Although, this may not be true of all working positions, at the moment 42% of U.S workers are now working from home full time. The option is allowing individuals a freedom that was not present prior to the pandemic. Having friends and family who have found that they are able to relocate to places closer to their support systems without the fear of looking for new work, and companies retaining quality workers who may want to live in a different cities, the working from home culture is here to stay.
As a psychotherapist, I have found myself questioning my own routine and wants for the future. Although initially I found the platform challenging and outside of my comfort zone, I understood its convenience. I was adamant in my thinking that this would be a phase that I would never truly embrace. I missed working in person. With time however, I found my stride and much like the phenomenon I speak to with patients about I experienced and embraced the change. I have a family, children, and working from home allowed for quality and ample time with them that I may not have had otherwise. I found that I was able to focus on work just as I would have in person, and yet had the ability to implement self-care that was different. I asked myself, what does this mean for mental health practitioners going forward? And what did it mean for me?
A few months into the pandemic, mental health providers across the board took on the new platforms of virtual care. The need for mental health providers was among the highest it has been in years, with appointments hitting their max across the board, as individual, couples and families dealt with psychological impact of the pandemic. What I saw as well was the further utilization of these resources, I look at my own cases and I see the split, those who would like to go back to in person and those who find the comfort of virtual mental health access to be a key resource for their life.
I’ve spent a significant amount of time thinking about what would be the best solution for people across the board – a hybrid access to mental health, to have more resources and the ability to work within both platforms without penalty I thought. As I look at initiatives implemented across the world the more I see the ways in which national healthcare bodies are taking serious steps to provide hybrid solutions. Embracing change takes time and acceptance, I am glad we can all do it together.