WHO says working from home is ‘blurring lines’
A World Health Organization (WHO) report states that working from home can blur the lines as individuals work longer hours than before
As working from home has taken hold in many occupations during the pandemic, the World Health Organization warns of a “blurring of the lines” – in a detailed report examining the positive health benefits and potential risks of teleworking.
dr Maria Neira, director of the World Health Organization’s Division for Environment, Climate Change and Health, said: “The pandemic has led to a rise in telecommuting and transformed the nature of work for many workers virtually overnight.”
Telework, defined as the use of information and communication technology (ICT) – such as desktop computers, laptops, tablets and smartphones – for work carried out away from the employer’s premises. This includes work done from home, in a remote office, or at another location. “Hybrid work” means a combination of telework and work at the employer.
WHO reports mixed feelings about working from home
While literal computer work shapes an individual’s immediate physical health, long-term isolation is another studied consequence. Studies have proven that human interaction is essential for most people. Loneliness can be caused by internet addiction or a lack of meaningful conversations.
According to the report, musculoskeletal damage and eyestrain are two consequences of prolonged computer work. However, there is less clear evidence on how teleworking affects overall health.
In general, this report finds that teleworking has a positive impact on self-reported health as workers prefer to have access to more nutritious food and their own space. However, the working hours in the home office tend to creep up, since “changed work processes and the blurring of the boundaries between work and private life” overwhelm the individual.
In the early stages of the pandemic, people were looking for ways to differentiate their time at home. A definitive transition, such as B. A dedicated workspace that you can clear at the end of the day was a commonly agreed solution. However, some people work in difficult conditions. Sometimes there is no option for transitional spaces – with people working from the same place where they relax without proper ergonomic support.
It appears that people who work from home had fewer complaints of arterial hypertension and lower blood pressure overall. However, the blurred boundaries of the home mean that sick remote workers struggle and just keep working, a phenomenon known as sickness presentism.
Does Working From Home Reduce Stress?
It seems so-so.
The WHO report notes that stress levels depend on several factors, such as: B. the level of social isolation, guilt about work and the level of irritability. A study attached as evidence found that employee data shows a lower risk of depression among people who work from home.
In the US, another study highlighted that teleworkers were able to spend more time with pets and family members—but office work was also attractive because it offered socializing opportunities and fewer work-family conflicts.
dr Neira continued: “In the nearly two years since the pandemic began, it has become very clear that remote working can bring health benefits just as easily and it can also have devastating effects.
“Which direction the pendulum swings depends entirely on governments, employers and workers working together and on agile and inventive occupational health services to put in place policies and practices that benefit both workers and work.”