Is working from home good for your health?

New research from Public Health Wales has identified that while the majority of people would like to continue working from home, nearly half surveyed also reported worsened wellbeing and feelings of loneliness.

The survey, carried out in November 2020 to January 2021 during the second wave of the Coronavirus pandemic, asked adults in employment in Wales whether they could work from home (WFH) and the impact of WFH on their health and wellbeing.

The survey asked respondents to consider their preferences for the future. Three in five respondents wanted to spend at least some or all of their working week WFH. One in five wanted to avoid home working entirely.

Of those who could WFH during the pandemic, almost half reported worsened mental wellbeing (45 per cent) and increased feelings of loneliness (48 per cent).

Groups who were more likely to report these effects included:

  • Younger workers in their 30s
  • Women
  • Those who lived alone
  • Those with poorer mental wellbeing
  • Those living with limiting pre-existing conditions

The effects of WFH on diet and exercise were more mixed. Whilst four in 10 reported a decrease in their levels of physical activity, three in 10 reported an improvement. Likewise, approximately one in three reported a poorer diet, while one in four reported an improvement.

Findings provide a reminder that the opportunity to WFH may not be accessible to all. Men, those living in more deprived areas, those in temporary employment and those with poorer mental and physical health were all less likely to report being able to WFH during this time.

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