Working from home and expectations of being available
Working from home arrangements are now common in many workplaces, and while there are many benefits, including flexibility and work-life balance, there are still many challenges for employers and workers.
A Norwegian study undertaken prior to the COVID-19 pandemic found that both working from home and expectations of availability had an influence on worker perceptions of their work environment, wellbeing, health and organisational commitment. The research found availability expectations while working from home are associated with increases in negative work consequences, including:
• higher levels of work demand
• role conflicts
• physical health (such as neck pain)
• mental distress
• lower levels of co-worker support
The study highlights the need for improving awareness of working from home risks and preventative approaches that aim to improve health and wellbeing. Comcare has guidance for employers and workers in striking the balance with flexible work, along with other working from home resources
Workers gained more weight, drank more, exercised less during pandemic: new study calls for action
An extensive Japanese study has shown a sharp rise in the incidence of unhealthy weight gain, high blood pressure, hyperglycemia and liver damage following COVID-19 restrictions and work-from-home policies.
The study authors from the Jikei University School of Medicine are calling for employers to promptly implement health interventions, particularly for workers with gained weight.
"Since remote work and virtual meetings will persist after the COVID-19 pandemic, weight management programs become more important than ever," they say.
The research team reviewed the results of annual health assessments, from 2018 to 2021, from 130,000 workers in 1,400 companies reporting to the Tokyo Health Service Association. (All workplaces in Japan are legally mandated to provide their employees with these health examinations.)
While Japan never instituted strict lockdowns for COVID-19, the Japanese Government repeatedly urged the public to avoid closed and crowded places, to refrain from face-to-face conversation, to wear face masks and to limit travel. Many companies introduced remote working at the Government's request.
This resulted in dramatic changes in lifestyle for the majority of the workers covered in the study.
The researchers focused on the one-year incidence of five health problems (being overweight, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, hyperglycemia, and liver damage) as well as four unhealthy habits (snacking, heavy drinking, physical inactivity, and sleep deprivation) and compared results before and during the pandemic.
They found the incidence of weight problems, hypertension, hyperglycemia and liver damage increased significantly during the pandemic in both sexes.