Ruth Dyer - Embracing the Power of Office Culture: A Reflection for Mental Health Awareness Week

Posted 13 May 2024

As Mental Health Awareness Week unfolds, I find myself reflecting on the impact that office culture has had on my own well-being and sense of belonging. Yesterday, as I cheered on my best friend’s double championship win, I couldn’t help but think how our friendship was formed through working together over 10 years ago. In fact, my closest friendships have all been created as a result of workplace experiences.

Having spent over two decades in a career where remote working wasn’t even a thing, I’ve had the privilege of cultivating meaningful connections with colleagues who have become friends. These friendships, formed through face-to-face interactions and shared successes, have been instrumental in both my personal and professional growth.

In a world where remote work is increasingly advocated for its convenience, I can’t help but advocate for the value of office-based interactions in nurturing mental well-being. Statistics reinforce this sentiment, with studies showing that office workers report higher levels of job satisfaction and lower rates of depression compared to their remote counterparts.

While the debate over remote work continues, I can’t help but acknowledge the significance of real-time communication in developing social skills, interpreting body language, and honing emotional intelligence. These vital aspects of human interaction simply can’t be replicated through video calls alone.

While some may advocate for the convenience of remote work, I believe there’s immense value in the camaraderie and connection that comes from working side by side.

My own experience as a virtual assistant for three years paints a vivid picture of the toll that prolonged isolation can take on one’s mental health. Life became a daily struggle, and the simple act of getting out of bed felt like an insurmountable task. It wasn’t until I returned to office-based working in 2019 that I saw a marked improvement in my mood and motivation.

However, this newfound sense of fulfilment was short-lived, as the global pandemic forced many of us back into remote work arrangements in 2020. While I adapted to the challenges of virtual collaboration, I longed for the camaraderie and connection that only the office environment could provide.

Now, as I embrace five days of office-based work each week, I find joy in the routines and rituals that come with it. From getting dressed in the morning to engaging in spontaneous conversations with colleagues, each day brings new opportunities for learning and connection. I revel in hearing about weekend adventures, exploring different cultures, and sharing in the diverse hobbies of those around me.

Without the vibrant tapestry of office culture, my world would undoubtedly be a lonelier place. As we navigate Mental Health Awareness Week and beyond, let’s continue to champion the value of face-to-face interactions in promoting positive mental well-being. Together, we can create spaces where connections thrive, and individuals feel supported, valued, and seen.

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