Remote working offers flexibility, as well as its share of frustrations. Might it also affect your health? Chicago Booth’s Lindsey Lyman has concerns that it can, emotionally and physically.
I’m concerned about the health of myself and of other individuals, and the impact it can have over the long term, working from home.
As I think about health, I categorize that into two buckets: one is emotional, and the other is physical. And we know that the effects, emotionally, of being socially isolated and being behind a screen, those are well documented. And we already know that as a society, we are on a pretty dangerous path with respect to screens.
Work screen time, obviously, is different than how a lot of people use screen time personally. And the nature of the content that’s consumed is a big part of the negative impact on emotional health, and that’s not exactly the same with working content.
But there is an impact of social isolation. Humans are social creatures, and socializing with pixels is just different than socializing with people in the flesh. And I do get concerned about what will happen to a society when we are unable to, or choose not to, interact with each other, and the impact that could have on us emotionally.
I worry about the impact on children as well, and that’s a completely different topic depending on what happens with K-12 education.
But social/emotional health is one bucket, and the other is physical health. By staying in our homes and staying behind a screen, we don’t have to walk anywhere. We don’t have to go upstairs to get to our office. We don’t have to walk to a train. We don’t have to walk from our car through the parking lot. We don’t have to walk to somebody else’s desk to talk to them. Much of the exercise many Americans get is just normal workday commuting, interacting, and now we no longer need to do that.
Now we have to be self-motivated to use the supposed time that we’re saving from not commuting to do something productive for our health. I wonder if we are actually doing that.