January 26, 2021
Remote work continues to impact physical and mental health of workers
New research from Fellowes Brands claims to reveal the ‘alarming’ impact enforced remote work is having on the mental wellbeing and physical health of the nation. Over a third (35 percent) of UK workers admit feeling stressed or anxious, lonely and isolated (32 percent) and tired or lacking in energy (38 percent), while working from home during lockdown. The study is based on a survey of 1,000 UK office workers who had worked from home for at least four months.
The report claims that inadequate home workstations are putting people’s physical health at risk as less than half (49 percent) have a proper set-up. As home working has increased due to the pandemic, the study calls for employers to do more as 10 percent of people admitted to working from their sofa, 5 percent from their bed and 3 percent even worked on the floor It is no surprise, then, that nearly half (49 percent) experience more physical strain working from home, with over a quarter suffering strained eyes (27 percent), stiff neck (27 percent), a sore or aching back (26 percent), and headaches (25 percent).
Top requirements for remote work equipment include better back support from their chair (29 percent), a new chair (27 percent) and less time spent sitting down (25 percent). Employees are also resorting to spending their own money on home working equipment (65 percent), spending on average, £1,300 – suggesting employees are unhappy with the support they are receiving.
A duty of care
The study claims that almost 1 in 5 (19 percent) think their employer does not care about their mental health or wellbeing – putting productivity, results and making money above their welfare. 45 percent of employees have never completed a workstation risk assessment – potentially putting physical and mental health at risk. 58 percent don’t know or don’t fully understand what their rights are when it comes to having a safe and healthy home working environment and 59 percent believe home working should be regulated by the government.
Nearly half (47 percent) work longer hours when working from home, compared to in the office, with over 1 in 4 (27 percent) unable to separate their home life from their work. 1 in 5 feel guilty taking a break and 29 percent are too busy to do so. More than a third (35 percent) feel they need to be available at all times throughout the day and over 1 in 4 (29 percent) say their employer rarely or never encourages them to take time away from their desk when working from home.
While working from home is placing physical strain on workers and negatively impacting their mental health, most people (89 percent) are keen to continue working at home in the future; enjoying the greater flexibility (60 percent). However, most (63 percent) would feel more motivated and productive if they had a better home working environment yet 42 percent say their employer did not support them in creating a good working from home set-up.