Work from home prompts fears about work-life balance and job security

The Working From Home Wellbeing survey also found that almost a quarter of people were drinking more and almost a third were eating a less healthy diet 
Work from home prompts fears about work-life balance and job security
Working from home has prompted concerns about job security and work-life balance, a new survey has found. File Picture: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

Job security, work-life balance and poor sleep are all concerns for people working from home because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The findings emerged from a survey on the well being of employees who experienced a sudden shift in work patterns because of public health restrictions.

Health issues were identified by many, with almost one-quarter (24%) of those surveyed admitting they were drinking more alcohol and almost half were suffering from aches and pains, especially in the neck (45%), shoulders (41%) and back (45%). Almost one-third (30%) were eating a less healthy diet and 40% were exercising less.

The Working From Home Wellbeing survey, conducted by Mental Health First Aid Ireland, part of the St John of God group, highlighted the challenges of home working during the pandemic.

More than half (57%) of the 1,179 people working from home said they loved having autonomy while one-third (34%) felt more motivated to work. Some 53% felt valued by their employer and almost three-quarters (72%) felt trusted.

However, many workers were experiencing poor sleep and mental fatigue. Four-out-of-ten were losing sleep because they were feeling anxious and half felt more tired than usual.

The survey, completed between mid-May and mid-June, showed that 42% of workers were finding it difficult to manage the boundary between work and home

Half of the employees (49%) were working long and irregular hours, adding an average of nine hours to their contracted hours. Despite this, 59% worried about their job security.

Three-quarters (76%) felt they had all the information needed to do their job but almost one in five (18%) had not been supplied with a computer by their employer. 

The vast majority - 90% - said no risk assessment had been carried out.

Mental health organisations stress the importance of protecting employees wellbeing

Mental Health First Aid recommends that employers conduct risk assessments to ensure a home office set-up is safe and encourage employees to get exercise.

There should be regular contact between managers and colleagues and employee groups should be trained to recognise and support colleagues who may be struggling mentally.

Also, employees should be involved in decisions about reorganising work and reallocating tasks and priorities.

Chief executive of St John of God Hospital, Emma Balmaine, said the survey was “extremely timely” would assist both employers and home workers to adapt healthily and progressively to a new way of working.

“The importance of mental health and wellbeing of employees has been highlighted yet again and it is helpful to have the recommendations from the survey to assist us all to make the best of this new phenomenon,” she said.

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