How to Manage A Toxic Work from Home Environment?

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Over the last year, working from home has become the new normal for most people. Irrespective of which industry you worked for, you probably had to make that switch to work from home.

This change has impacted a large number of people in many ways. However, most people have overlooked the psychological effect work from home jobs have on their mental health!

Work stress is exceptionally normal, but most of us fail to differentiate between a stressful and a toxic working environment. Unhealthy working environments can be hard to identify and certainly negatively impact our mental health.

Continue reading to find out more about unsatisfactory work from home conditions and how you can deal with them!

But first, how to identify a toxic work from home situation!

There is a fine line between work stress and a work from home situation that is unsuitable for you, and often we mix the two up.

Here are a few signs that you might be stuck in a toxic work from home job.

  • You have not slept soundly for a while now.
  • Your eating habits are extreme. Maybe you either eat too much or too little.
  • You feel angsty and frustrated at the same time.
  • You feel uncomfortable in your own home.
  • Your productivity has drastically decreased, and you are not as efficient as you used to be.

According to a Qualtrics report, about 41.6% of people experienced a rapid decline in their mental health after beginning working from home due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Work from Home and Mental Health Infographic

Clear signs that you are in a toxic environment

Hustle culture is one of the major causes why people reach burnout long before they ever anticipated it. It may seem like the norm, but you need to chase success at your own pace.

If your workplace encourages ambiguous hustling and prioritizes results over your well-being, you might need to make a few changes.

While you might think you are in healthy competition with your co-workers, you are overworking yourself. The competition may even amplify in work from home jobs.

This competition between co-workers may stem from a place of healthy work culture. However, it might turn into something exceptionally toxic if it is not checked from time to time.

Be on the lookout for the following signs in your workplace and steer clear of them!

Toxic Work From Home

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1. Office gossip

Office gossip has taken a turn for the worse ever since many in-office operations took refuge online. Without the physical water-cooler talk, office gossip has become a tad more severe than it used to be.

It isn’t easy to convey messages across to people online. When people gossip with their colleagues through online means, misinformation is propagated among employees at lightning speed.

If you are ever victimized by office gossip, you probably understand how hurtful it feels to know what your colleagues think about you.

Work from home jobs can amplify this gossip, and it could become worse for people because a lot of information can get lost in translation!

2. Microaggressions

Another sign you are working for a toxic work from home job is being subject to sporadic microaggressions. These could happen periodically and gradually grow in intensity.

Microaggression is when a superior targets you and uses words or actions to make you feel terrible about yourself. Any person in the position of power could assert it and misuse their position to inflict psychological damage on employees.

Many people who started work from home jobs over the course of last year experienced an increase in these microaggressions. Some of them had racial undertones while the others were abstruse. 

3. Sexism

Sexism in the workplace is an issue almost all women have had to face in the past. Be it for equal pay or just to be treated decently in the office; women have been the forerunners of this battle for decades.

Sexism has taken a new form with work from home jobs. With almost all operations online, meetings and work discussions have been switched over to phone calls and video calls too.

Studies show that many women feel that they are very easily ignored over these virtual meetings. Women feel like they are interrupted a lot more than usual, and more often than not, they are not heard at all.

Coping with toxic work from home environments

Here are a few tips that can help you cope with a toxic work from home setting.

Coping with Toxic Work from Home Practices

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1. Living and working spaces should be different

If you eat, drink, sleep, and work all in the same place, you might have trouble enjoying anything. Your working area should be entirely separate from your living space.

If you combine them both, you will have trouble relaxing at home. Your mind will signal you to be productive everywhere in your house, even when you do not need to work.

2. Do not be afraid to speak up

If you are uncomfortable with the way someone treats you at work, do not be afraid to speak up. Even if it is a superior, make sure you tell them exactly how you feel.

The same goes for the work you do too. If you find yourself unable to work on things that you previously could, make sure to communicate them to your team.

3. Take some time off if needed

It is crucial that you put your mental health first and take time off whenever you need it. Work from home jobs can take a toll on you.

If the transition to working from home is not easy, take some time off and figure it out for yourself. Practising self-love can go a long way in preventing burnouts and improving your mental health. Make it as comfortable as you can, and then begin working!

4. Don’t expect yourself to be impossibly productive

You might have undertaken herculean tasks in the past, but now you are unable to work with the same efficiency. This could be because of the changes in your working environment.

Try to understand your work capacity and accept that it is not always going to be standard always. Your ability to take up work will keep fluctuating, and be sure to convey that to your superiors.

5. Take things at your own pace

If you see your colleagues doing tasks that are infinitely more difficult or important, do not force yourself to do the same.

Do things you know you are capable of, and do not push yourself too much. Be encouraging and yet kind to yourself and do only what you know you can!

To conclude with

Work from home can be a breeze if you do it right. Remember that you are not the only one going through these drastic changes. If you feel the anxiety and stress getting to you, make sure to reach out to your loved ones. You can also read about some inventive ways to manage your anxiety here.

So, if you are open about your grievances and problems, your superiors will undoubtedly understand. Be vocal about things, and remember to take it one step at a time!

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