While working from home and avoiding going out are supposed to keep people from getting sick during the coronavirus outbreak, it seems that it may also make them less healthy. A new study from the U.K. shows how people working from home are leading less healthy lives.
A survey of 500 workers done by the U.K.’s Institute of Employment Studies (IES) shows that people working from home are drinking more alcohol, eating less healthy food and sleeping less. The study also reveals a significant increase in bone, muscle, ligament, tendon and nerve complaints.
The results of the IES’s Working at Home Wellbeing Survey suggests the diet and exercise are on the wane. About 33 percent, one-third of the respondents stated that they were eating less. One-fifth of the respondents, however, admitted that they were drinking more alcohol than before.
Meanwhile, 60 percent of those surveyed, more than half, admitted that they were exercising less than they use too. This number comes as the lockdown and social distancing measures have resulted in gyms closing not just in the U.K., but in outer countries such as the U.S. as well.
The lack of exercise isn’t the only physical toll working at home is having on people. The survey notes that there has been a significant increase in musculoskeletal complaints among the respondents. More than half of those surveyed reported feeling new aches and pains since starting to work from home.
Most of these new aches and pains felt by the respondents seem to be related to the spine and back: Fifty-five percent of respondents specifically complained about having more back pains. Meanwhile, 58 percent also complained of neck pains, and 56 percent of shoulder pains.
One thing the respondents were getting less of is sleep due to a plethora of reasons. The majority of respondents, 64 percent to be precise, stated that they were losing sleep due to worry. Meanwhile, 60 percent also admitted to feeling increased symptoms of fatigue. The latter could be due to having to work long, irregular hours, something which 48 percent of respondents said they had to.
The survey also asked about the respondents’ mental health. The results show a workforce that seems to have a lot on its mind.
Work-life balance seemed to be a significant concern, with 50 percent of respondents unhappy with theirs. Others, 33 percent to be precise, felt isolated due to the lockdown.
Job security was another big concern, especially as the global economy slows down due to measures to control the virus. Twenty-one percent of those surveyed were concerned about whether they’d still be able to keep their jobs during the crisis.
Finally, the health of family members was also something people were worried about. Nearly half the respondents, 48 percent, were concerned about this.
The results of the IES survey seem to show that those working from home during the current crisis face significant challenges to their well-being. With more people having to do so as the outbreak continues, these challenges are something that both workers and their employers will have to consider.
“These interim findings paint a picture of a new homeworking workforce that faces significant physical and mental well-being challenges,” said Stephen Bevan, Institute of Employment Studies’ head of human resources research development.
“Employers need to recognize they are still responsible for the well-being of their staff, even when working from home,” added Bevan.
For those working at home, the challenge is figuring out how to address these issues while in their homes now that they’ve been identified. These workers will likely have to figure out their own methods for dealing with back pain, eating healthier, and the other problems working from home may bring.