Almost nine out of 10 (87%) employees fear for their health because of the Covid-19 outbreak, with many feeling isolated, lonely and finding it difficult to sleep.
According to a survey of 2,008 workers by jobs platform TotalJobs, two-thirds (64%) of the employees now working from home think their wellbeing has been affected by the changes brought about by government restrictions.
More than half (52%) said their sleep had been affected; 54% were less active than before the outbreak; 45% found their new home workspace uncomfortable; and 58% had been eating more than they would normally.
Employees were also worried about their colleagues’ health and wellbeing. Eighty-six per cent were concerned about co-workers’ health, which prompted 81% to make more of an effort to reach out to one another.
Almost three-quarters (73%) agreed that they appreciated their colleagues more than they had before the pandemic.
Dr Aaron Balick of the Department for Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies at the University of Essex said: “It’s a paradox that in a time of ’social distancing’ people are more aware than ever of their relational needs. In missing our usual workplace banter and support, we are seeking new ways of achieving it, being more conscious about how we reach out to others, and finding out the social pleasures we had in the workplace but were somehow unaware of before.
“Working from home can increase worry, stress, and loneliness for many people. Levels of anxiety are increasing with people concerned about their health, job security, and health of their colleagues and loved ones. This means that working from home should be more about work, and become another opportunity to seek and provide comradeship and support during challenging times for all of us.”
TotalJobs head of marketing Lynn Cahillane said: “Against the backdrop of a constantly changing environment, employers need to remain mindful about the potential unease among their team, and encourage support and awareness, not only for the sake of staff’s physical welfare – but for any increased mental stress people may be experiencing as a result.
Working from home can increase worry, stress, and loneliness for many people. Levels of anxiety are increasing with people concerned about their health, job security, and health of their colleagues and loved ones,” – Dr Aaron Balick, University of Essex
“Teams should be encouraged to share their worries with line managers, who themselves have an important role to play in ensuring vulnerable employees are supported at this time.”
Meanwhile, a separate survey by the Institute for Employment Studies discovered many employees now working from home were struggling with musculoskeletal pain, diet, sleep and their mental health.
More than half (58%) experienced pain in the neck, shoulder (56%) and back (55%), compared to their normal physical condition.
Many were not maintaining a balanced diet and healthy exercise regime; 20% admitted to an increase in alcohol consumption, 33% were eating a less healthy diet, and 60% were exercising less than they would usually acknowledging that they are exercising less.
Sixty-four per cent were losing sleep because of worry, while 50% reported not being happy with their current work-life balance. A third said they frequently felt isolated.