The COVID-19 pandemic has altered almost every aspect of our ‘normal’ work and life. From the onset of the pandemic, many companies, organizations and institutions have encouraged their employees to work remotely from the comfort of their homes in an attempt to curb the spread of the virus and for personal safety reasons, which has become routine for most people till today. And while the thought of working from home might sound comforting and peaceful, it, however, does not come without compromise, especially with our health and wellness. Numerous studies are now identifying several health risks relating to working from home -from physical to mental health, as well as work-related injuries that are unique to the home environment. This article discusses the different ways how working from home affects our health.
COVID-19 and Work From Home
Work From Home or WFH has become something of a synonym for the novel coronavirus pandemic. From toddlers to adults, everyone has got accustomed to this new phrase the pandemic has introduced. On that note, one might think that “Working From Home” is a new concept but it is something that has been in practice even before the pandemic. However, it is only with the COVID-19 outbreak that WFH has become what it is today. Since the onset of the pandemic, many people around the world are left with no choice but to work remotely from their homes, as a way to stay safe and control the spread of the virus. From open seating and busy office life to bedrooms and kitchen tables, the working arrangement of millions of employees has changed overnight. For some, it may be here to stay. And while this WFH measure has been critical to helping control the spread of the virus, numerous studies have suggested that WFH may have a strenuous impact on an individual’s mental and physical health, besides the many existing struggles, including tech problems, household issues, compromised makeshift workplace, and more.
The Health Impact of Working From Home
Because the transition from office to WFH was so immediate, many employees struggled with their makeshift home offices or lack of it -with uncomfortable seating arrangements, as well as the constant disturbance from their children or family members, which only add more stress to their already stressful WFH situation. And while most people have gotten used to these common problems, there are certain health risks WFH workers still have to look out for:
1. Weight Gain
Being stuck at home for hours on end, sitting in front of the computer with endless video calls can only mean that WFH employees are suffering from a lack of physical activity and movement. And the quick and easy access to the kitchen for occasional snacks and drinks only adds more to the problem, which leads to weight gain. Excess weight gain has become a common health problem not just for WFH employees but for almost everyone since the onset of the pandemic, where everyone is subjected to stay indoors for months after months.
2. Musculoskeletal Pain
To further understand how WFH affects the health of a person, a small study was conducted on 51 at-home workers by researchers in Italy to identify the potential health impact of WFH amid the COVID-19. As per the study, which was published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, it was demonstrated that 41.2% of WFH workers reported back and joint pain, while 23.5% reported neck pain. Additionally, about half of the respondents also reported that their neck pain had gotten worse since they started WFH.
3. Mental Health
Likewise, to find out how WFH workers are managing in terms of their physical and mental health, a survey was conducted by the US-based digital clinic, Hinge Health on 900+ US full-time and part-time workers. The report shows that with social isolation and loneliness becoming part and parcel of remote working, mental health issue has become a growing concern for WFH employees. The survey also showed that almost half (48%) of the respondents reported they are experiencing stress, anxiety, and depression since they started WFH. Furthermore, around 73% also reported that their stress, anxiety, and depression have worsened since they started WFH due to Covid-19.
Taking Charge of Your Health while WFH
With WFH as the new normal, overweight, increasing chronic musculoskeletal pain and mental health issues are common health issues many are facing. It is important to address these emerging health risks however you can, especially if you are someone WFH. Here are some proactive steps you can take to help protect your physical and mental wellbeing:
1. For Your Back and Joint Pain
2. For Your Eye Health
3. For Healthy Weight
4. For Mental Health
The Bottom Line
While Working from home may have its perks and benefits, the impact it has on health, both physical and mental, have become a thing to be aware of. From excessive weight to back and joint pain to mental health issues, WFH can be damaging to health if left untreated. Always remember to prioritize your mental health and to keep chipping away at negative thought processes. Lastly, following the above-mentioned tips can do wonders for your health and make Working From Home something to actually look forward to.
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