One in four turns to alcohol to cope with work pressure, especially when working from home

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Employees are more likely to turn to alcohol when experiencing work-related stress at home than switch off their work phone, research has found.

Just 25% said they would switch off their phone when they felt overwhelmed by work, but 26% said they would have an alcoholic drink.

The survey of 2,016 UK workers, commissioned by connectivity firm 99&One, also found that drinking alcohol was a more popular coping mechanism than telling colleagues they were taking a break offline (16%) or putting their phone on ‘do not disturb’ mode (17%).

In March, alcohol sales increased by 22% in the UK, which suggested many workers were drinking more at home during that period, which included the beginning of the UK going into lockdown. Many more people, too, have been working from home during the weeks of restrictions because of the pandemic.

“There are growing concerns that people are hitting the bottle during isolation,” said 99&One CEO Steve Haworth.

“While employers cannot influence everyone’s habits at home, they can create a culture that encourages downtime, and make sure technology is configured to help workers switch off. Employees should be empowered to set clear boundaries – for example by diverting business calls outside of work hours – to avoid burnout and maintain productivity.”

With mass working from home likely to continue for some time, 22% said they were already struggling to keep their work life and home life separated.

However, the research also identified some potentially healthier coping mechanisms: 37% of workers said they chose to exercise to switch off from work, 35% spent time reading and 31% put their work devices away.

Last week, the Reward and Benefits Association said more than three-quarters of employers reported an increase in requests for mental health and wellbeing support from staff during the lockdown.

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