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46% of employees say working from home is negatively impacting their mental health, according to study

working from home

The mental health of workers across the UK is being negatively impacted according to the ‘Working from Home’ study conducted by remote team building company Wildgoose (@wildgooseevents)

The study asked employees from 133 companies across the UK whether they could identify issues with team communication, desk setup, or working hours with their remote working environment, and just 22% of respondents stated that they have no issues. Respondents were asked to detail how their working day differs at home compared to in the office, whether they would be happy to continue working from home after lockdown ends for a third time, and how companies could improve home working practices. 

One of the biggest concerns for people working from home across the UK is the lack of communication and social interaction they have with their colleagues (56%). Respondents also highlighted that they missed seeing workmates face-to-face and spending time with them (52%). 

This data suggests that businesses still face great pressure to create a structure which addresses these issues adequately, supporting wellbeing, productivity and team bonding in remote work environments.

What do employees want from their companies when working from home?

  • Casual contact – 3 in 5 employees stated that they missed seeing their workmates and spending time with them face-to-face
  • Social time – Over half (56%) of employees would like more social contact with workmates as part of the working day 
  • Wellbeing support – 52% stated that their mental health is being impacted by isolation at home, a sub-optimal working environment, and other aspects of working from home

When it comes to specific ways in which employees want their companies to improve home working practices, there were similarities between SMEs, medium to large companies and very large companies. However, the study also found key differences in how companies of varying sizes have adapted to the shift in working patterns.

What structures should businesses adopt to support working from home?

Respondents of the ‘Working From Home’ study were asked about their daily habits in their workspace away from the office, and measured these against elements that are known to help employee wellbeing. 

Among the most common problems were:

  • Not taking the health and safety recommended hourly desk breaks (47%)
  • Failing to take breaks for physical activity or stretching (50%)
  • Uncomfortable and impractical desks and equipment (45%)
  • Working excessive hours (36%)

Commenting on the findings, Wildgoose managing director Jonny Edser says:

“Remote working has presented challenges for companies of all sizes. In smaller companies, that sense of connection and camaraderie is key to a healthy and productive working environment. When you take away the tea breaks and office chats, teams can struggle to stay motivated at a distance, which makes regular team building exercises more important than they’ve ever been. We’ve adapted our offering to help companies with remote workforces by looking at what most engages people about team building – social interaction, that sense of collaboration and staying connected with colleagues – they’ve seen a fantastic response, and we expect this trend to continue growing.”

Karen Kwong, Director of Renoc Consulting, an organisational psychologist and wellbeing coach, says:

“‘Water cooler’ conversations in an office setting will certainly provide more frequent breaks than working from home, and will have a positive impact on wellbeing and productivity because humans at their basic level are social creatures, even the most introverted of us. It actually gives us energy to socialise, even in small doses. Casual conversations, sharing stories, or chatting about a piece of work will enhance your thinking and give you some ideas on how to improve your current project. This will bring about increased motivation and engagement, and build and enhance working relationships. These all contribute to wellbeing and productivity at work.

The social interaction and the workplace community of subtle but no less important relationship-building – these all help the organisation’s productivity, as well as the wellbeing of individuals.”

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