Yes, work-from-home has a detrimental effect on employee health

Has the forced switch to remote working adversely affected the health of employees? The answer that emerged from our investigation is irrevocable. This is the result with 7,000 office workers across Europe. Research conducted by Fellowes Brands among employees in France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain and the United Kingdom. All working from home for at least four months due to Covid-19.

And that’s a resounding “YES”. This research paints a worrying picture of the problems encountered in recent months. For those interviewed, “too many employers do not meet their obligations.”

From workstation risk assessment to office equipment. The importance of taking breaks during the day. To disconnect from the working day. Understanding their rights in the workplace at the office or / and remotely. It seems that many employees do not yet have what they need to be successful teleworking.

Unless employers take action to address it, the physical and mental health of employees could be seriously threatened.

© Fellowes

Main results of the study

  • One third of homeworkers (35% EU / 33% FR) experienced stress and anxiety.
  • More than one in three people (37% EU / 39% FR) suffered from back pain.
  • More than two thirds (71% EU / 65% FR) bought home office equipment. On their own funds.

Most study participants believe employers care more about productivity, results and the competitiveness of their company than from the well-being of their employees.

Organizations need to do more to show that health and wellness is a priority for their business. And that they work to prevent the onset of musculoskeletal disorders that may arise. Good gestures and postures to adopt.

  • A third of respondents feel stressed (33%) and also lonely and isolated (33%).
  • Over a third also suffer from eye pain (41%). Back pain (39%). And headaches (31%).
  • Only half (50%) have a suitable home workstation. 12% admit to working from their sofa, 4% from their bed and 4% on the floor.
  • When working from home, 42% of those surveyed believe that they should be available at all times of the day. 31% feel too busy to take a break.
  • 49% of respondents say their home workstation causes more pain and strain than their office workstation.

Heavy consequences

Fellowes, provider of ergonomic office solutions, calls on employers to act now to improve the health of workers. The lack of clarity regarding health and safety legislation, especially at home, could put workers at risk.

© Fellowes

One third suffer from eye strain (41%). Back pain (39%). And headaches (31%). The global pandemic has forced employers and workers to adjust to a “new normal”. To embrace a new way of working at home and in the office.

But what are employers doing to support their workforce and protect their health? And how can employees take action to create a healthy and happy working environment in their home?

Duty of care towards home employees

The study finds that 33% of respondents believe their employers don’t care about their mental health – putting productivity, results and money making beyond their well-being.

41% of people do not know or fully understand their rights regarding a safe and healthy home work environment.

Yannick Benet, osteopath and ergonomist explains: “The current context has imposed remote working for a majority of people. Unfortunately many are not equipped. Many do not know the principles of installation at their workstation either. Whether in the office or telecommuting. Teleworking accentuated their physical pain. It raised awareness of the negative impacts on their physical and mental health. It is therefore imperative for employers to act. To offer comprehensive support to their employees with suitable ergonomic equipment as well as employee training “.

Source: Fellowes study carried out by Atomik Research with 1,000 French employees who worked at least 4 months from home (totally or partially) during the health crisis. Study carried out online between November 10 and 14, 2020.