Working from home during the pandemic has led to increased levels of loneliness and mental distress, according to new research by the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen). The biggest increases in mental distress and loneliness compared with pre-pandemic levels were felt by the most isolated group – those working from home and living alone.
Perhaps surprisingly, people working from home and living with others also experienced a significant increase in loneliness not felt by those working outside the home.
The research highlights that people able to work from home during the pandemic have been protected from financial difficulties which are, themselves, a strong predictor of poor mental health.
However even when financial circumstances, loneliness and demographic characteristics were controlled for in the research, people working from home recorded bigger increases in mental distress than those who were working outside the home.
Isabel Taylor, Research Director at the National Centre for Social Research, said:
“Our research suggests working from home arrangements have negatively impacted some workers’ mental health. More of us than ever now work from home and use technology to replace many aspects of work previously done in person, but this cannot fully replicate the working environment for everyone.
“As the government considers current working guidance, individuals, employers and government departments should be aware of the impact working from home is likely having on people’s mental health.”
NatCen analysed data from interviews carried out with 8,675 people before the pandemic and in May, July and November 2020 for the Understanding Society COVID-19 survey.
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