A rapid review of mental and physical health effects of working at home: how do we optimize health?
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many people to work from home, leading to a dramatic increase in the number of employees working remotely. In the past year, more than one in three workers have shifted to working from home. While working from home has many advantages, such as improved work/life balance, increased flexibility, and reduced costs, it can also come with a range of both mental and physical health effects.
In this blog post, we’ll take a rapid review of the mental and physical health effects of working from home, and discuss practical strategies for optimising health in this new work setting.
• Mental Health Effects of Working from Home– Working from home can have a range of effects on mental health, including increased stress, decreased motivation, and feelings of loneliness and disconnection.
• Stress and Anxiety – One of the primary mental health effects of working from home is increased stress and anxiety. The COVID-19 pandemic has created an environment of uncertainty and fear, and many people are struggling to cope with the sudden shift in work environment and lack of social contact.
In addition, working from home can also lead to increased stress due to the lack of structure, which can lead to feelings of guilt and anxiety.
• Decreased Motivation – Another mental health effect of working from home is a decrease in motivation. Working from home can make it harder to focus and stay motivated due to a lack of external motivation or positive reinforcement from colleagues.
In addition, some people may struggle with feelings of isolation and loneliness, which can lead to decreased motivation and productivity.
Physical Health Effects of Working from Home Working from home can also have a range of physical health effects.
• Sedentary Lifestyle – One of the primary physical health effects of working from home is an increased risk of a sedentary lifestyle. Without the daily commute, it’s easy to become too sedentary, leading to a range of health problems such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.
• Ergonomic Risks– Working from home also increases the risk of ergonomic injuries. Without the proper ergonomic setup, it’s easy to develop musculoskeletal issues such as neck, shoulder, and back pain.
Strategies for Optimising Health- Fortunately, there are several practical strategies for optimizing health when working from home.
Strategies for Optimizing Health:
• Create a Dedicated Workspace – Creating a dedicated workspace can help to reduce stress and increase motivation. Choose a spot that has good lighting and is free from distractions, and make sure to set up an ergonomic workstation that is comfortable and promotes good posture.
• Take Breaks– It’s important to take regular breaks throughout the day to reduce stress and fatigue. Take short walks, listen to music, do some yoga, or just take a few minutes to relax.
• Stay Connected -Loneliness and isolation can have a significant impact on mental health, so it’s important to stay connected with family and friends. Schedule regular video calls and make sure to take part in virtual social events. By following these strategies, you can help to reduce the mental and physical health effects of working from home and optimise your health and wellbeing.