A leading independent health education charity is calling on employers to provide staff with better access to mental and physical health support, as it released data which highlights the impacts of working at home during Covid-19.
Research by the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) highlighted the health and wellbeing disparities between different groups of people who made the move to home working as a result of the on-going Coronavirus pandemic.
Whilst 45% of respondents felt working from home was better for their health and wellbeing, people who had switched to home working highlighted the impacts it was having on them: 46% said they were taking less exercise, 39% were developing musculoskeletal problems and 37% were experiencing disturbed sleep.
In terms of the impact working at home was having on their mental health, women were more likely to suffer from isolation compared to men. Overall, 67% of respondents reported feeling less connected to their colleagues with 56% saying they found it harder to switch off at the end of the day.
However only a third of respondents had been offered support with their mental health by their employer.
With working from home set to continue for millions of UK workers the public health body is calling on employers to provide support to employees experiencing isolation and anxiety, provide access to equipment and a remote assessment to support them with their physical health, and develop a culture that encourages employees to separate their work and home life.
Christina Marriott, Chief Executive of RSPH, said: “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.”
Simon Blake, CEO Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England, said: “Flexible and home-working practices can have huge benefits for employee wellbeing when managed effectively, but they should not remain a privilege for those whose homes are already conducive to work. With most of us wanting to continue to work from home in some capacity, it’s the responsibility of employers to ensure any potential disparities are acknowledged and accounted for. Everyone should have the right to good mental health and wellbeing, and the best employers will set up their workforces not only to cope, but to thrive as we move out of the pandemic.”
The findings of the RSPH survey also showed that the vast majority of people didn’t want to go back to working in an office full time, with nearly three quarters of people (74%) saying that they wanted to split their time between home working and working in an office. This reflects the findings of Gensler’s UK Workplace Survey 2020 which found 67% of UK workers wanted a hybrid way of working.
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The survey was carried out between 7th August 2020 and 28th September 2020. Data was collected from 678 respondents over the age of 18 and living in the United Kingdom. The survey collected data on several aspects of working from home including the health and wellbeing issues people had faced, what equipment they had been provided by their employer to work from home, and what their working from home set up was like.
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