Are remote workers developing unhealthy habits?

Feeling stressed and isolated, telecommuters may be suffering in silence

Are remote workers developing unhealthy habits?

Stress and anxiety over the coronavirus pandemic are taking a toll on remote workers – many are eating less healthy, exercising less frequently and even turning to alcohol, a workforce study claims.

But telecommuters aren’t just skipping on a healthy diet and fitness regimen. Against the backdrop of a global health crisis, more than half of respondents are also reportedly experiencing an increase in physical pain and fatigue, according to the Institute of Employment Studies (IES) in the UK.

Psychological stress is also affecting remote workers’ sleep quality. One in five are concerned about their job security, while one in three frequently struggle with feelings of isolation, the report found.

READ MORE: Online therapists are helping workers cope with COVID-19 anxiety

Unhappy with the current set-up, half of remote staffers are forced to render longer, if not irregular, hours of work. This trend coincides with increasing patterns of exhaustion among respondents, thereby raising their potential for burnout.

A fifth of workers are also seeing an increase in their alcohol intake, the researchers noted.

The ‘homeworking workforce’ are thus facing physical and mental health challenges, according to Stephen Bevan, who leads HR research development at IES.

One drawback of social distancing measures instituted during the pandemic is HR leaders’ lack of visibility into their employees’ behaviour, particularly those related to their health and well-being.

READ MORE: The perks and pitfalls of working from home

Telecommuting makes it difficult for organisations to spot signs of trouble given the physical distance set between leaders and their teams.

But the current crisis, Bevan believes, also gives leaders the opportunity to promote greater work-life balance by prompting employees to ‘psychologically segment’ their day.

“Employers need to recognise they are still responsible for the well-being of their staff, even when working from home,” Bevan told the Watford Observer.

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