The risks of remote working
Since March, millions more employees have experienced the highs and lows of working at home. While many are enjoying the benefits of avoiding tedious commutes, a better work-life balance and more autonomy over their working day, it hasn’t been without its downside.
There has been copious research relating to employee mental health matters when discussing working from home, but what about the physical health side effects? According to new research from private healthcare company Bupa, working from home is as dangerous to the health of UK workers as smoking. That might seem like a bit of an exaggerated statement to some, but daily tasks that you may not even think twice about when working from home, could actually be affecting your physical state more than you think.
Whilst remote working removes the hassle of the dreaded daily commute to work, it can be said that without this, there is further time spent at the workstation and working on equipment not designed for prolonged usage (i.e., spending hours sitting down in an unsupported position and failing to move around enough) can all have serious health implications. The study showed that almost a fifth of people working from home are exercising less as a result sitting down more, increasing the risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and blood clots. This sedentary existence causes a whole number of health issues, and it can be said that sitting for long periods is also associated with poor mental health – people feel their minds work better when they are moving. With research showing that employees are working for an extra 48 minutes a day on average since lockdown, it’s likely they’ll be sitting still for an even bigger part of the day. Working in an office alongside colleagues provides opportunities to get up and move around. Going to meetings, having a coffee break, or collecting printouts are all reasons to move and get the blood circulating. These opportunities are reduced when working at home – often in isolation, with meetings taking place onscreen. In addition to this, people are probably more inclined to eat more often than they would in a working office environment, taking breaks and consuming more food than they normally would leading to further health complications.
As businesses move towards hybrid working, it is worth remembering that there are also benefits of getting back into the office! If you need support to develop a hybrid working policy, 121 HR Solutions can help. Contact us on 0800 9995 121 to discuss your needs.