July 12, 2021
New research by the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen) claims there are links between working from home during the pandemic and increased levels of loneliness and mental distress. NatCen analysed data from interviews carried out with 8,675 people before the pandemic and in May, July and November 2020 for the Understanding Society COVID-19 survey.
The biggest increases in mental distress and loneliness compared with pre-pandemic levels were felt by the most isolated group – those working remotely and living alone.
Perhaps surprisingly, people working remotely and living with others also experienced a significant increase in loneliness not felt by those working remotely.
The research highlights that people able to work remotely during the pandemic have been protected from financial difficulties which are, themselves, a strong predictor of poor mental health.
“Individuals, employers and government departments should be aware of the impact working from home is likely having on people’s mental health.”
However even when financial circumstances, loneliness and demographic characteristics were controlled for in the research, people working remotely recorded bigger increases in mental distress than those who were working outside the home.
Isabel Taylor, Research Director at the National Centre for Social Research, said: “Our research suggests working from home arrangements have negatively impacted some workers’ mental health. More of us than ever now work from home and use technology to replace many aspects of work previously done in person, but this cannot fully replicate the working environment for everyone. As the government considers current working guidance, individuals, employers and government departments should be aware of the impact this is likely having on people’s mental health.”
Image by Anastasia Gepp