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Irish employees working from home report decreased physical and mental health and loss of sleep - new study

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A person working from home (PA)

A person working from home (PA)

A person working from home (PA)

Irish employees who are working from home have reported a decrease in physical and mental health and a loss of sleep, as well living a less healthy lifestyle, according to a new study.

The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in the largest and quickest mass shift in work patterns globally, as the majority of Irish employees began working remotely, usually from home.

Mental Health First Aid Ireland today published the results of its Working From Home Wellbeing Survey of 1,179 respondents who found themselves working from home as a result of the pandemic.

The study reveals that alcohol consumption and muscular skeletal problems are on the increase while Irish employees reported a denigration of their diet and exercise.

Almost half of the survey respondents reported aches and pains, especially in the neck (45pc), shoulders (41pc) and back (45pc) compared to their normal physical condition. Some 41pc said they had experienced more eyestrain than usual.

Diet and exercise have also been impacted with 24pc admitting to an increase in alcohol consumption, nearly a third (30pc) are eating a less healthy diet and 40pc said they are exercising less.

Over half the respondents (57pc) still said they loved they autonomy of working from home while 34pc said they felt more motivated. Some 53pc agreed that they felt valued by their employer and almost three quarters (72pc) felt trusted by their employers.

However, when asked about their mental wellbeing, the findings depict a workforce with worsened mental health. Poor sleep and increased fatigue emerged as concerning findings. 40pc of respondents reported loss of sleep due to worry and 50pc said they experienced more fatigue than usual. 40pc of respondents were found to be experiencing poor wellbeing as defined under the WHO-5 Well-Being Index.

The respondents completed the survey between mid-May and mid-June, with 42pc describing managing the boundary between work and home life as ‘very difficult’ while nearly half (49pc) said that long and irregular hours were a feature of new working from home arrangements, with those surveyed saying they worked an average of 9 hours in addition to their contracted hours of work. Despite this, 59pc said they are worried about their job security.

Speaking about the results of the survey, Martin Gillick, National Training Co-ordinator for Mental Health First Aid Ireland’s Adult and Workplace programmes said: "Employers repeatedly state that their most important asset is their staff.

"The results of the survey have shown the challenges that home working and the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic present. These challenges, now more than ever, place an onus on all employers to put in place systems that support the wellbeing of staff.

"These should include both formal and informal supports that foster workplace wellbeing and may include training programmes such as Mental Health First Aid as part of an overarching wellbeing strategy. At the end of the day, a happy and supported workforce is good for business and society.”

Online Editors