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Home workers report increase in back pain and longer hours

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#WFH during Covid19? You may be experiencing “significant wellbeing challenges” according to authors of the first survey of home working employees’ experiences during the lockdown.


Institute of Employment Studies has released its interim results of research of home workers conducted during the outbreak to track changes in employee wellbeing patterns.

Headline statistics include a significant increase in musculoskeletal complaints. More than half of the survey respondents reported new aches and pains, especially in the neck (58 per cent) and back (55 per cent).

The majority reported a loss of sleep due to worry (64 per cent) including worries about job security, while just under half (41 per cent) have health concerns for family members. Around a quarter (26 per cent) have continued to work despite illness.

Working at home can be stressful for parents of young children. Photograph: iStock

Commenting on the findings, survey architect and IES Head of HR Research Development, Stephen Bevan said that the findings “paint a picture of a new home-working workforce that faces significant physical and mental wellbeing challenges.”

“Employers need to recognise they are still responsible for the wellbeing of their staff, even when working from home, and there are a number of steps they can take to improve employee well-being.”

Firms are encouraged to support employees by providing mental health support via informal messaging groups, virtual coffee mornings and regular contact with bosses and colleagues.

Not all findings were negative. A sizeable 67 per cent said they enjoy the autonomy of home working, 37 per cent say home working is “motivational” and 70 per cent intend to stay with their employer once the pandemic is over.

The results are published as interim findings in IES Working at Home Wellbeing Survey, and features results of 500 people polled in March.

The survey is still open here. Take part and findings will be published in a fuller report.

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