Almost two-thirds of employees have reported feeling less connected to colleagues since switching to work from home, according to a new survey from the Royal Society of Public Health (RSPH).
People who switched to working from home as a result of the pandemic reported a range of negative impacts on their health and wellbeing, with the most common being feeling less connected to colleagues (67%), taking less exercise (46%), developing musculoskeletal problems (39%) and disturbed sleep (37%).
The RSPH also found that 56% of employees also said they found it harder to “switch off” when working from home. However, only a third of respondents had been offered support with their mental health (34%) from their employer.
One in four respondents reported working from either a sofa or a bedroom, yet nearly 48% of people who did so said they had developed musculoskeletal problems, and nearly two thirds (59%) said they felt more isolated from their colleagues.
Women were more likely than men to feel isolated (58% and 39% respectively) and more likely to develop musculoskeletal problems (44% and 29% respectively).
Nonetheless, the survey showed that the vast majority of people didn’t want to go back to working in an office full time, with 74% saying that they wanted to split their time between home working and working in an office.
However, the RSPH said that the health and wellbeing issues affecting home workers and the fact that some groups of people are impacted more severely than others needs to be addressed by employers.
The RSPH is now calling for employers to ensure that all employees have access to mental health support to help them to cope with increased isolation and anxiety.
In addition, all employees should have access to equipment and a remote assessment to support them with their physical health, and organisations should develop a culture that encourages employees to separate their work and home life when working from home.
Christina Marriott, CEO of RSPH said: “Our findings reveal that although working from home can be beneficial for people’s health and wellbeing, there are stark differences in how different groups have been affected.
“For people who have multiple housemates or are working from their bedroom or a sofa, the impact on their mental and physical health is extremely concerning and something we believe that employers need to address.”
“The changes in the way that millions of people are working has the potential for employers to rethink how they are supporting their employee’s mental and physical health. Some form of home working is likely to continue for millions of people and we urge employers to take the necessary steps to ensure their staff can work from home as safely and healthily as possible.”