Remote Work and Isolation in Recovery

Are you a remote worker? If so, do you feel a remote work setting causes more isolation than you may care to admit? While some people were previously accustomed to remote work, the pandemic opened it up to exponentially more individuals across the country. As a result, some people now prefer remote work to an office environment and vice versa. However, we must consider the potential isolation remote work causes and its potential dangers to those in recovery. 

Addiction is an isolating disease, often causing people to feel alone in active addiction and their recovery journey. You may have already been a remote worker before entering treatment, but now you may have concerns about its effect on your recovery.

Despite the potential isolation or remote work, there are ways for you to stay connected to loved ones and the outside world. Remote work can be a perk for many, but the perks should not outweigh possible threats to your recovery. Take the necessary steps to weigh its pros and cons, and prioritize your sobriety today. 

The Start of Remote Work

Though it may not seem like it, many individuals were remote workers long before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. With the technological advances we have seen over the past couple of decades, many people and companies have tried normalizing remote work for years. While some companies have been on board, many have remained against the idea. 

Despite the differing feelings of these businesses, there was little to no choice in remote work when the pandemic hit. Companies had to scramble to figure out how to keep business afloat while employees were told to stay home. Through best efforts, many places of employment made things work. This difficult time proved that many jobs across the country could be done remotely; some companies were unwilling to accommodate. 

While the world slowly transitions back to “normal,” remote workers are fighting to keep their remote capabilities alive. The push is mainly due to the pros remote work offers them, whether it saves them on travel expenses or helps them take care of their kids. Some find themselves to be more productive at home. However, many people now feel isolated working remotely. Isolation can cause people to struggle with their mental health, especially those in recovery. 

If you are a remote worker and new to sobriety, you may wonder what the best option is for your career and long-term recovery. Creating a pros and cons list is the best way to determine if remote work will help or hinder your sobriety. Depending on your line of work and company, in-person or hybrid may not be an option. However, when you have a choice, a list can help you determine if it is worth pursuing a new opportunity for the sake of mental health and recovery. 

The Pros and Cons of Working Remotely

As mentioned, your ability to work in an office, remotely or some hybrid of the two may not be a decision you can make. Some companies work solely in a virtual setting. Nevertheless, consider the pros and cons, whether you have options at your current workplace or are considering a new one. 

Some of the pros of working remotely include: 

  • It saves time thanks to less commuting 
  • You save money by not spending as much on gas, uber, or other transportation methods 
  • More flexibility in your schedule to attend appointments during the day, be home for your children or make time for other things — such as exercising, eating healthier, or hobbies 
  • Fewer intra-office distractions 
  • Improved health due to more time spent exercising, sleeping, or preparing healthy foods 

These are just a few of the many pros of remote working. However, pros also depend on your home environment, working style, and other life circumstances. Similarly, the cons may also depend on your lifestyle. In any case, some cons to consider include: 

  • Unreliable internet access makes it difficult to complete job responsibilities 
  • The temptation to work more because of the free time from not commuting or getting ready for work 
  • Less structure and routine in your day 
  • Distractions from children or lack of space for a dedicated office 
  • Less time in-person time with co-workers or the outside world in general 

Feeling Isolation as a Remote Worker

Research indicates that individuals with substance use disorder (SUD) may be at an increased risk of feeling lonely and isolated. Isolation can be dangerous for individuals in recovery, especially if sobriety is new. Unfortunately, that is the biggest con you may need to consider regarding remote work. Especially if you are new to recovery and live alone, the isolation of working remotely may pose a threat to your long-term recovery. However, you can prevent feeling isolated by: 

  • Constantly keeping in touch with friends, family, and members of your support system.
  • Prioritize spending time outside your home with things like going to the gym, hiking, or spending time with friends and family.
  • Attending support group meetings as much as you need or partaking in an aftercare program
  • Spending time with co-workers you get along with outside of work if you live within a commutable distance from each other.
  • Doing things you love, such as reading, going to the movies, walking outside, or pursuing creative hobbies

Despite the pros of remote work, the isolation is not worth risking recovery. Consider the pros and cons of remote work on your recovery and take the necessary steps to maintain sobriety long-term if you are a remote worker. 

Remote work has several benefits, and many people have been reaping these benefits since long before the COVID-19 pandemic. However, even with its usefulness, working remotely can cause people to feel isolated. Isolation can harm your mental health and overall well-being, but if you're in recovery, it can be especially detrimental. Addiction is a very isolating condition. A copious amount of time spent alone can threaten recovery and increase the risk of relapse, which is why remote work may not be the best fit for you if you're new to recovery. If you are trying to grapple with working remotely and maintaining recovery, consider the pros and cons and call NorthStar Transitions at (303) 558-6400 for extra support today. 

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