We are back: working remotely. We were just returning to normality and now legions are faced with the daunting task of setting up their own home offices.

While for some, this will be welcome — they will avoid the daily commute, spend longer in bed and have more time with their family — it’s not without its downside, too.

Working from home can have a negative impact on the mental health of many office workers. The sharp end is where we run the risk of the economic recovery stalling.

The daily commute is crucial for many small businesses. It is a threat to the livelihoods of those who work in cafes, coffee shops, bars, restaurants, and other establishments.

Dr Max Pemberton warns that working from home will cost many their mental health in a number of ways (file image)

Max Pemberton, Dr. Max warns that many people will suffer from mental illness if they work at home (file image).

Cooks, taxi drivers, dry cleaners, shop owners, office cleaners, security staff, hotel workers and so on are all dependent on people going into work — and if working from home continues, we may well see significant job losses in these sectors and we know that unemployment is inextricably linked to poor mental health.

But that’s not all.

The structure of work — having to start and finish at certain times — is important.

Patients have shared with me their struggles to relax while at work. Anxiety levels have soared as a result.

A day’s work easily bleeds into the evening, blurring the boundary between our work and our private life. It is common for people to check email late at night or take conference calls outside of work hours. It’s difficult to turn off the computer and walk away when the screen is blazing away in your bedroom/kitchen/living room.

But there’s also the social element which we lose when working from home.

There’s something incredibly valuable about having people around you. Even brief, fleeting interactions between co-workers can be a part of the fabric and rhythms of work life.

These tentative, vague connections can be important. They are a part of our tribal roots.

Even though we might not get to know each other well, the fact that they are connected through their work place means that this connection must be maintained and nurtured.

Anyone who has been in a Zoom meeting will know they just aren’t the same as a real face-to-face meeting.

There’s no preamble or chat beforehand, it’s less jokey and fun.

People appear less engaged and present.

Dr Max Pemberton (pictured) recommends sticking to your working day and offering to check in with new people for staying sane while working from home

For a healthy work environment, Dr Max Pemberton (pictured), recommends that you stick to your daily routine and offer to meet up with other people to keep yourself sane. 

We might like the idea of working from home, but we’ve failed to take into account how significant day-to-day social interaction is for us.

Going to work is a vital way of forming alliances and friendships which it’s just not possible to do virtually.

Many of us can for the moment trade existing relationships. However, what happens to younger workers starting their careers in the workplace? They’ll struggle to form bonds with colleagues.

They’ll miss out on the kind of learning you only get when you shadow someone closely or are surrounded by others more experienced than you.

It might sound daft, but the most important thing we do at work isn’t actually work. We are gregarious animals — interacting with each other allows us to foster alliances, make connections, build friendships.

We’ve all had the experience of an infuriating boss or irritating colleague. Work life is not without its frustrations, irritations and friction.

While this might not be widely accepted, it is something I really feel for Boris Johnson. Not only does he have the pandemic and fallout of the No10 party, he’s become a father again. It can be stressful and overwhelming to become a dad. It is a good thing to take time off. Although he might be Prime Minister, his most important role is being a dad. 

The work environment allows us to let our hair down. If anything happens, it’s possible to complain about it to someone who is more understanding. Surreptitious eye rolls in meetings about bosses who drone on make it easier to manage the situation. It’s these small, apparently inconsequential moments that help us cope with the pressure of working life.

We might complain about someone, but others find them to be a pleasure to work with, which can lead to reflection and prompts us to pause and think.

We can’t allow this working from home culture to become the norm — but for those of us who find ourselves still in our pyjamas, shuffling three steps to our desk this morning, here are my tips for staying sane.

1Keep to the schedule. Turn off your work phone if you use it for business purposes. Refrain from checking your emails during work hours. Be brutal about this, and don’t waver no matter how urgent someone says it is.

Put your working hours at the bottom of your emails and set an out-of-office message for the evenings, so no one can claim they didn’t know what times you are available.

2Take a break for lunch. This can be done away from your desk. You should sit in another part of your house than the one where you set up your office. You might also consider taking a stroll around the neighborhood during lunchtime.

3 Zoom meetings are a great way to meet people, say hi and check in. It’s not the same as in a face-to-face meeting, but try to have a chat about things other than work before the meeting actually starts.

4 Offer to check in with new people — especially young colleagues starting out — who might not know other members of staff and may feel lost or overwhelmed.

5 And finally don’t forget to book a proper holiday — ideally nowhere near your new ‘office’.

Emma, play the long game

Dr Max said Emma Raducanu (pictured), who is the face of Tiffany and Dior, needs to be careful of overexposure and to remember: life is a marathon, not a sprint

Dr Max said Emma Raducanu (pictured), who is the face of Tiffany and Dior, needs to be careful of overexposure and to remember: life is a marathon, not a sprint

Emma Raducanu had an amazing year. She has gone from sensational U.S. Open winner to superstardom.

And she’s still only 19.

Evian has signed last week Tiffany and Dior’s face, and she is already the face of Dior and Tiffany. She will undoubtedly make millions, and she’ll be well-equipped for the future. However, I worry about the possibility of falling when your achievements are so impressive and fast.

I’ve worked with individuals who found stardom very early on in their lives.

People often become lonely and isolated when their spotlight is dimmed. It’s not helped that, when your star is in ascendance, the people advising you often have a financial incentive to push you further.

Emma is young. It is important to not overexperiment and remember that life is a marathon.

Dr Max said it¿s perfectly possible to find ¿the one¿ after a few dud. Pictured: Shirley Ballas who may be engaged to her partner, Danny Taylor

Dr Max said it’s perfectly possible to find ‘the one’ after a few dud. Pictured: Shirley Ballas who may be engaged to her partner, Danny Taylor

  • Rumours that Shirley Ballas, a favourite of this column, may be engaged to her partner, Danny Taylor, have led many to speculate on the success rates of third marriages — Shirley has been wed twice before, after all. Maybe I’m a romantic, but it’s perfectly possible to find ‘the one’ after a few duds. In psychology we talk about the ‘dynamic’ — how two people interact. And this is why a third, fourth or even fifth marriage might work — someone might just find the person whose emotional landscape fits with theirs.

This is a lot like trying different pieces on a jigsaw puzzle until you find the right one.

£70, cultbeauty.co.uk

£70, cultbeauty.co.uk

Doctor Max gives…

The Bed of Nails

The mat utilizes the same ancient pressure technique as acupuncture for relaxation and pain relief.

Thankfully, this modern version doesn’t actually have nails that could penetrate the skin, just small plastic spikes.

£70, cultbeauty.co.uk.