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Working from home in Australia during the COVID-19 pandemic: cross-sectional results from the Employees Working From Home (EWFH) study

Version 2 2024-06-19, 12:45
Version 1 2023-02-09, 22:53
journal contribution
posted on 2024-06-19, 12:45 authored by J Oakman, N Kinsman, K Lambert, R Stuckey, Melissa GrahamMelissa Graham, V Weale
ObjectivesTo investigate the impacts, on mental and physical health, of a mandatory shift to working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic.DesignCross sectional, online survey.SettingOnline survey was conducted from September 2020 to November 2020 in the general population.ParticipantsAustralian residents working from home for at least 2 days a week at some time in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic.Main outcome measuresDemographics, caring responsibilities, working from home arrangements, work-related technology, work–family interface, psychosocial and physical working conditions, and reported stress and musculoskeletal pain.Results924 Australians responded to the online questionnaire. Respondents were mostly women (75.5%) based in Victoria (83.7%) and employed in the education and training and healthcare sectors. Approximately 70% of respondents worked five or more days from home, with only 60% having a dedicated workstation in an uninterrupted space. Over 70% of all respondents reported experiencing musculoskeletal pain or discomfort. Gendered differences were observed; men reported higher levels of family to work conflict (3.16±1.52 to 2.94±1.59, p=0.031), and lower levels of recognition for their work (3.75±1.03 to 3.96±1.06, p=0.004), compared with women. For women, stress (2.94±0.92 to 2.66±0.88, p<0.001) and neck/shoulder pain (4.50±2.90 to 3.51±2.84, p<0.001) were higher than men and they also reported more concerns about their job security than men (3.01±1.33 to 2.78±1.40, p=0.043).ConclusionsPreliminary evidence from the current study suggests that working from home may impact employees’ physical and mental health, and that this impact is likely to be gendered. Although further analysis is required, these data provide insights into further research opportunities needed to assist employers in optimising working from home conditions and reduce the potential negative physical and mental health impacts on their employees.

History

Journal

BMJ Open

Volume

12

Pagination

e052733-e052733

Location

England

ISSN

2044-6055

eISSN

2044-6055

Language

en

Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Issue

4

Publisher

BMJ