Survey: Remote work during pandemic causes new mental, physical issues

74% of respondents said they experienced a new mental health issue while working from home

Working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic protected us from contracting the virus, but it caused other health problems — both mental and physical — for many people.

A survey of people who worked from home during the pandemic found nearly three-quarters experienced new mental health issues, while 65% developed new physical issues.

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From April 24 to June 11, 2021, researchers from the University of Southern California Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy surveyed nearly 1,000 adults from 40 states who were working remotely.

According to the survey, 74% of the respondents said they’d experienced a new mental health issue — such as anxiety, sadness, trouble sleeping, low motivation, mental stress and trouble concentrating — and 55% said they’d experienced two or more.

“Although it was apparent that the pandemic disrupted our lives in a way that was stressful, we were a bit shocked by the high incidence of new health issues among the home-based workforce so early on in the pandemic,” study co-author Shawn Roll, director of USC’s doctoral program in occupational science, said in a press release.

Survey respondents also said they worked, on average, about 90 minutes more a day than they did when in the office. Longer hours were most often associated with having a child at home, having a desk or adjustable chair at a workstation, and the adjustment of work hours.

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Roll suggested everyone monitor their stress, anxiety or physical pain, and and examine how they might relate to one another.

The study was published online in Work: A Journal of Prevention, Assessment and Rehabilitation; the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine; and OTJR: Occupation, Participation, and Health.

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