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Survey shines a light on health impact of working from home

Mental Health First Aid Ireland surveyed nearly 1,200 workers between May and June.

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Mental health campaigners said the survey results highlighted the negative impacts of working from home during the pandemic (Joe Giddens/PA)

Mental health campaigners said the survey results highlighted the negative impacts of working from home during the pandemic (Joe Giddens/PA)

Mental health campaigners said the survey results highlighted the negative impacts of working from home during the pandemic (Joe Giddens/PA)

Working from home has had a serious impact on peoples’ mental and physical health, according to a survey.

Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) Ireland surveyed 1,200 workers between May and June and found that while many loved the autonomy and freedom of working from home, their health had been negatively impacted.

Almost half of the survey respondents reported aches and pains, especially in the neck (45.6%), shoulder (41.5%) and back (45.2%) compared to their normal physical condition.

Some 41% of respondents also indicated they experienced more eyestrain than usual.

Diet and exercise had been impacted, with just under one quarter (24.9%) of respondents admitting to an increase in alcohol consumption, nearly a third (30%) were eating a less healthy diet and two-fifths (40%) acknowledged they were exercising less.

Some 40% of respondents reported loss of sleep due to worry, while 50% indicated they experienced fatigue rather more or a lot more than usual.

Nearly half (49.3%) reported that long and irregular hours were a feature of working at home, with respondents working an average of nine hours in addition to their contracted hours of work.

Regarding mental health, almost one-third of respondents (31.7%) reported not being happy with their current work/life balance and one third (33%) frequently felt isolated working at home.

Many respondents (59%) were worried about job security, just over one-third (38.7%) harboured health concerns for family members and just under one-fifth (19%) were experiencing other emotional difficulties.

Some workers viewed the positives of the situation, with nearly 60% saying they loved the autonomy of working from home and just over a third saying they felt more motivated.

The survey results prove, what many commentators have speculated; we are facing into a significant increase in mental health and well-being problems as a result of the Covid-19 pandemicDonal Scanlan, MHFA Ireland

More than half said they felt valued by their employer, with nearly three-quarters feeling trusted.

But some 42% of respondents agreed that managing the boundary between work and home life was very difficult for them, while 40% of respondents were found to be experiencing poor well-being.

MHFA Ireland manager Donal Scanlan said the survey results highlighted the negative impacts of working from home during the pandemic.

“The survey results prove, what many commentators have speculated; we are facing into a significant increase in mental health and well-being problems as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.

“Helping create a workplace culture where mental health can be spoken about openly and with confidence; a workplace community willing and able to respond to the mental health needs of their colleagues.”

PA