Research

Changes in work and life patterns due to COVID-19 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many people refrained from going out, started working from home (WFH), and suspended work or lost their jobs. It is known that these changes in work and life patterns could affect their mental health. Previous studies suggested that working from home increases employees’ well-being, whereas other studies showed that it induces longer working hours and results in the overlapping responsibility of taking care of children by blurring boundaries between work and home time. This study from Japan examined how such pandemic-related changes in work and life patterns were associated with depressive symptoms.

The researchers, from the Universities of Tokyo and Kyoto, conducted an online survey among participants who use a health app called CALO mama from 30 April to 8 May 2020 in Japan. There were Participants consisted of 2846 users (1150 men (mean age=50.3) and 1696 women (mean age=43.0)) who were working before the government declaration of a state of emergency (7 April 2020). Their daily steps from 1 January to 13 May 2020 recorded by an accelerometer in their mobile devices were linked to their responses. Depressive symptoms were also assessed. 

The results indicated that on average, participants took 1143.8 fewer weekday steps during the declaration period (from 7 April to 13 May). Depressive symptoms were positively associated with women, decreased weekday steps and increased working hours. Conversely, starting WFH was negatively associated with depressive symptoms.

The researchers concluded that decreased weekday steps during the declaration period were associated with increased odds of depressive symptoms, but that WFH may mitigate the risk in the short term. Further studies on the longitudinal effects of WFH on health are needed.
Read more: Koryu Sato, et alChanges in work and life patterns associated with depressive symptoms during the COVID-19 pandemic: an observational study of health app (CALO mama) users [Open Access - Full Article] Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine 

New resource shows domestic violence is a workplace issue
Violence continues into the workplace for many workers experiencing domestic violence and it is time to challenge the "myth" that this is not a workplace issue, according to Diversity Council Australia (DCA) and violence against women prevention organisation Our Watch.  DCA says that domestic and family violence is a critical issue in the workplace. If an employee is living with, or using, domestic and family violence, it will have an impact on the workplace through absenteeism, presenteeism and the costs of replacement hiring. Not to mention the personal impacts on those people living with family and domestic violence.

Ahead of International Women's Day on 8 March, the two national organisations have released a "myth-busting" resource on why domestic, family and intimate partner violence is a workplace issue. Australian businesses lose $1.9 billion a year to this "shadow pandemic", through victim and perpetrator absenteeism and additional management costs, the organisations say. The issue is especially critical now, with the COVID-19 pandemic further blurring the line between the home and office, driving a documented spike in violence against women, they say.

According to the 36-page myth-busting resource, some organisations are still reluctant to address this issue because it has long been seen as purely belonging in the home domain. However it is a workplace health and safety issue and one in five Australian workers experiencing domestic and family violence reports that the violence continues into the workplace, it says.

The resource addresses seven myths on domestic and family violence and the workplace. Research by Our Watch shows nearly 80 per cent of people want practical tips on how to respond to "casual sexism" and to safely intervene when witnessing disrespectful behaviour toward women and girls. 
Read more - watch a short video, download the document: Myth Busting Domestic and Family Violence at Work: Using Evidence to Debunk Common Myths and Assumptions, Sydney, Diversity Council Australia and Our Watch, 2021  Source: OHS Alert

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