WFH can negatively impact mental and physical health: Study

Hemani Sheth Mumbai | Updated on December 05, 2020

Work from home took a toll on female workers and those with infants had a higher change of reporting a new mental health issue

Work from home (WFH) can negatively impact workers’ mental and physical health according to a new study by researchers at the University of Southern California published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

As per the study, working from home “increased work expectations and distractions, reduced our communications with co-workers, and ultimately lessened our productivity.”

The study states that the time spent at the work station has increased by at least 1.5 hours. Workers are also likely to have less job satisfaction and increased neck pain when working from home.

As per the report, more than 64 per cent of respondents reported having one or more new physical health issues while working from home while nearly 75 per cent experienced one new mental health issue.

WFH took a toll on female workers

Female workers with an annual salary of less than a lakh were more likely affected by mental health issues than male workers. Workers with higher income also reported two or more new physical and mental health issues, the report noted. They were also more likely to suffer from depression.

For working parents, those with infants had a higher chance of reporting a new mental health issue despite the tendency of having better mental well-being. “Having toddlers was affiliated with physical well-being but it was also associated with more physical and mental health issues,” the report said.

Professionals who adjusted their work hours around others were also more likely to report a new health issue. More than one-third of the respondents reported scheduling their work hours around others.

“Workers decreased overall physical activity, mental well-being and exercise, combined with increased overall food intake,” the report added.

Workers also struggled with creating an efficient work environment at home. Out of the people surveyed, one-third of workers had a dedicated room for their work at home while at least 47. 6 per cent of workers shared their workspace with others.

“The quality of your home workspace is important; having a dedicated workspace signal to others that you are busy, minimises the chances of being distracted and interrupted. Increased satisfaction with the environmental quality factors in your workspace, such as lighting, temperature, is associated with a lower chance of having new health issues. Also, knowing how to adjust your workspace helps with physical health,” Becerik-Gerber, the study’s corresponding author said.

The study is based on a survey conducted during the early days of the pandemic. Nearly 1,000 respondents had participated in the survey.

Published on December 05, 2020

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