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Work From Home: New Health Risks Come With the New Normal

0 2 years ago

Many companies like Facebook and Twitter have announced the option to work from home permanently beyond COVID-19. A Gallup poll in April found that 65% of employees were working from home due to COVID-19. Global Workplace Analytics estimates 56% of U.S. workers have jobs that can be done from home and predicts around 25-30% of the workforce will be working from home several days a week by the end of 2021.

With remote work here to stay, new health risks have been identified. We conducted a survey of 900+ US full-time and part-time workers in June 2020 to find out how they’re faring in terms of their physical and mental health.

The state of remote work during COVID-19

Gone are commutes, office happy hours, and open seating. Instead, the workplace looks more like your dining room or kitchen table with your pet dog as your closest desk buddy. Two-thirds of respondents said they were currently working from home. And the majority are rookie remote workers with 78% temporarily working from their home office due to COVID-19 workplace policies and only 17% calling themselves permanent or regular remote workers.

The home office isn’t quite up to workplace standards

Because the transition to WFH was so immediate, employees are working in substandard conditions in makeshift offices. Most employees are camped out in shared living spaces like their dining room, living room, bedroom, or even laundry room. Only roughly a third boast of having dedicated office space in a separate room. While over half of those surveyed indicated they spend the majority of their time working at a desk, the dining table was the second most popular and the couch the third most likely place.

The challenges: Social isolation & lack of movement

Social isolation and loneliness top the list of challenges for remote workers with 37% of survey respondents citing it as their top issue with remote work. Without casual hallway chats or happy hours after work, employees are missing key social interactions with their colleagues.

Skipping the commute and sitting in endless video calls also means many employees are suffering from a lack of physical activity and movement during their typical remote work day. In the old office life, employees used to walk as part of their commute, step out to grab lunch, or dash between meeting rooms in their office building. In today’s remote workplace, people are likely sitting at their desks most of the day–only moving back and forth from the kitchen to their desk for the occasional snack. Lack of movement was the second top challenge for remote workers, with 35% saying they aren’t moving enough.

Finally, it’s not surprising that difficulties separating work and personal life came in third on the list, with 1/3 citing this as a challenge with remote work.


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