Impact of Remote Working during COVID-19 Pandemic
The global pandemic has resulted in vast changes to individuals' working arrangements all over the world. People are having to get used to a new normal of hybrid or remote work. This has caused strain on not only companies but employees themselves as for many it has been hard managing a healthy work life balance. This has led to HR leaders having to make decisions on how to promote employees’ health while working at home. For this to happen strategies need to be based on the best available evidence to optimise worker outcomes.
Studies have shown that there are several health outcomes affected by home working. It has become clear that keeping up with a healthy work life balance when working remotely can be difficult for many. This is a concerning issue as it is likely that hybrid working will remain in place for the foreseeable future. According to a recent HSE report (The Best Evidence on the Impact of Remote Working during the COVID-19) it states how necessary it is for companies to implement formalised working at home policies. These policies should consider work-home boundary management support, role clarity, workload, performance indicators, technical support, facilitation of co-worker networking, and training for managers.
This is so as research has identified that remote work can have negative effects on mental health, with employees experiencing increased feelings of isolation, loneliness, and stress. According to research which was highlighted in the guardian, it was found that individuals who work from home and also live with others still experienced a significant increase in loneliness.This is extremely interesting and to add to this Forbes highlighted that even in the new normal, the impact of loneliness and isolation should not be understated. It was described that isolation can be “twice as harmful to physical and mental health as obesity”.
To support your mental health while protecting your family’s physical health during this pandemic, it is important for companies to take initiative in maintaining wellbeing within a home workspace. The same HSE report states that, telecommuting can be a valuable tool for balancing professional and family life and can help to improve the well-being of workers. However, several factors influence the overall remote working experience, and there is a need for companies to adopt unique strategies reflecting their own situation.
At Empeal we have worked with many health coaches throughout the years however Moira Dunne who is a productivity and wellness consultant brought up some very interesting points. Moira explained that it is important to plan your day and fuelling your body with the correct healthy foods is imperative to maintaining a healthy work life balance,
“When your energy levels drop so does your concentration levels. Typically, people are freshest in the morning but also the most disciplined people tend to stick to plans in the morning. However, as the day goes on it is easier to get more distracted. This is directly linked to what we eat and the breaks we take. Often what really helps if you have good healthy food options in your house this can make it quick and easy to make healthier food choices”.
“It is important to take a holistic view of wellbeing because it’s not just all about the hours you sit at your desk but it’s about the breaks you take, the exercise you do, the eating of healthy foods throughout the day. This is all related into mind fitness as it affects your ability to focus and be productive”.
In all whether employees are working from home or in the office measures will need to continue in order to assist with better employee mental health programs. The support of managers and HR leaders is hugely important in this to pave the way to encourage healthier lifestyles, and a healthier work life schedule.
HSE, 2021. What is the best evidence on the impact of remote working during the COVID-19 pandemic - LINK
The Guardian 2021, Rise in Stress for Those Working from Home - LINK
Forbes 2020, When Home becomes the Workplace - LINK