Work from home regulations increasing risk of mental health problems, study reveals

Working from home has had both a physical and mental impact on our health, a major study has revealed.

The research, published by the University of Southern California (USC), adds to the growing body of evidence suggesting that the pandemic will leave a long-lasting effect on our wellbeing.

To carry out the investigation, the researchers interviewed almost 1,000 respondents on the impact of working from home as a result of local and national social distancing restrictions.

In a physical sense, it was found that the average remote worker spent an additional 1.5 hours at their workstation – putting increased strain on existing physical problems and creating new ones – such as neck and back pain. Workers also reported less “job satisfaction”.

Likewise, when quizzed about their mental wellbeing, three in four (75 per cent) remote workers experienced at least one new mental health issue.

Both physical and mental health issues were more likely among female workers and those on lower salaries compared to men and higher paid peers, the study found.

It was also discovered that parents with young children were more likely to report a new mental health issue, while living with at least one teenage child lowered the risk – suggesting social bonding could help improve overall wellbeing.

Contrary to popular opinion, pets did not appear to have an impact on physical or mental health.

Commenting on the report, the authors said: “The quality of your home workspace is important; having a dedicated workspace signals to others that you are busy, and minimizes 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. In addition, knowing how to adjust your workspace helps with physical health.”

The latest figures suggest that around one in four people in the UK experience a mental health problem each year, with the most common illnesses being anxiety and depression.

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