The Downside of Remote Work and How Stepping Out of the Light Can Help

Remote work in the United States was a luxury for 7% of the workforce before the Covid-19 pandemic. The pandemic forced almost all industries, employers, and workers to transform their working approach by shifting to a remote model. Remote work provides excellent opportunities for employers to increase their business productivity.

At the same time, employers can save operational costs and take advantage of the competition in talent recruitment and retention. The remote working model is also beneficial for maintaining positive environmental impacts. However, this comes with costs of a loss of organizational culture, problems regarding remote workforce management, and exposure to security risks.

Remote working allows you to create a better work-life balance. You have more freedom, improved health, and increased productivity. However, working on a computer for a prolonged period without taking breaks or going outside to spend some time in nature can take a toll on your health.

The Downside of Remote Work

The revolution in technology and communication has brought about changes in all aspects of social life. Research shows that the internet has become an integral part of the new economy characterized by the significance of information technology and globalization. The effects of these changes are noticeable in the labor market, influencing their lifestyle and work habits.

An increasing number of occupations in the 21st century, particularly during the pandemic, requires tools like computers and phones with internet access, resulting in decreased demand for traditional offices. The trend raises an important question: is remote work beneficial or harmful to employees?

Although there are numerous benefits of working remotely, especially on computers, there are dangers and downsides. Computers pose various potential health concerns if you fail to take care of your health. So, you can neglect the negative impacts of using digital devices. Here are a few downsides associated with remote work.

Ineffective Social Skills

Remote work blurs the boundary between home and work, causing employees to suffer from ineffective social skills. Less socialization can cause poor self-esteem, loss of reality, depression, body chills, inflammation, and posture problems due to prolonged sitting, decrease sense of empathy, and infective learning abilities. 

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Working on a computer requires repetitive movements, leading to repetitive stress injury and carpal tunnel syndrome. For instance, when you move your hand from a mouse to a keyboard, it can fatigue your muscles and cause musculoskeletal injuries. Taking breaks, understanding computer ergonomics, and keeping the proper posture are a few ways to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome and musculoskeletal injuries.

Stress and Depression

Having too many virtual meetings can reduce your mental stamina. Likewise, working for hours to complete your specific tasks or projects and submit them before the deadline can cause stress and burnout, leading to depressive symptoms.

Eye Strain and Diseases

Employees working remotely spend their time on computers, and the changing schedules prevent them from getting outside, spend time in nature, or perform physical activities. At the same time, excessive use of computers can lead to eye strain, also known as computer vision syndrome.

According to the American Optometric Association, digital eyestrains have increased during the Covid-19 pandemic. Blue light with shorter wavelengths ranging between 400nm and 500nm is the biggest culprit that causes eyestrain and other conditions, such as macular degeneration, cataracts, and blindness.

The good news is that you can prevent eyestrain by investing in quality blue-light-blocking glasses. These glasses have yellow or orange-tinted lenses that block the blue light with higher energy levels, preventing it from entering your retinal cells.

Tension Headaches

A growing body of research evidence shows that 90% of computer users, including remote workers, experience tension headaches with symptoms like dry eyes, fatigue, irritation, redness, and inflammation.

Bear in mind eyestrain itself can trigger headaches, meaning blue light from your computer screen can cause significant damage to your eyes, eventually leading to chronic headaches. You can take over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers, such as ibuprofen and naproxen, to treat headaches. However, when you take these medications for a long time, they can cause side effects, such as:

  • Stomach pain
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Sleepy
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Slow heart rate

On the other hand, blue light glasses are side-effects-free eyewear that can prevent tension headaches. These glasses block blue light of shorter wavelengths from penetrating your retinal cells and disrupting your hormonal production in the brain.

As a result, your brain releases enough endorphins to relieve headaches. Remember, endorphins are natural painkillers that work effectively against muscle pain, inflammation, tension headaches, and migraines.

Disrupted Circadian Rhythm

Disrupted biological clock function is another downside of remote working. Blue light emitted from your computer screen can disrupt melatonin production, a hormone responsible for a good night’s sleep.

Reduced melatonin can imbalance your sleep-wake cycle and cause fatigue, stress, depression. It also increases the risk of metabolic disorders, heart disease, hypertension, diabetes. Disrupted sleep patterns can also cause imbalanced homeostatic functions in your body.

Therefore, it is crucial to talk to your boss and set specific working hours to maintain consistency. For instance, if you work in the morning two times a week and at night three times a week, this can take a toll on your circadian rhythm, leading to insomnia, stress, and depression.

Whether you work in the morning or at night, it is crucial to use protective eyewear, such as blue light glasses, to mitigate the harmful effects of blue light. These glasses reduce glare and increase contrast, allowing you to work for a longer time without stressing your eyes. As a result, the blue light does not disrupt melatonin levels in your brain.

Final Words

Remote working can lead to better work-life balance, less commute stress, money savings, improved inclusivity, a customizable home office, and an improved environment due to less carbon footprint.

However, it also has downsides, such as less socialization, reduced communication, dependency on digital devices, digital eyestrain, isolation, stress, depression, insomnia, repetitive stress injury, etc.

Blue light emitted from your computer screen can cause a wide range of health conditions. Instead of taking medications to treat these conditions, we recommend wearing blue light glasses because they are a preventative approach to keep your eyes healthy.