21% feel isolated working from home

A fifth of employees feel being isolated in a home office during the pandemic has had a negative impact on their mental health and wellbeing, according to new research.

In a poll of 1,000 people by Gazprom Marketing and Trading (GM&T), 21% said working from home had affected their mental health, with 41% adding that not being able to socialise with colleagues was what they missed most.

According to GM&T resourcing adviser Mark Trueman, this highlighted the need for employers still to be looking at ways to alleviate the negative aspects of home working, such as employees feeling isolated. At a practical level this could mean things such as trying to replicate social activities virtually, although he conceded this can be difficult to do, but also offering support via benefits such as employee assistance programmes.

Trueman said: “Luckily, the stigma of mental illness isn’t what it was, and there’s a whole host of different ways your workplace might be able to help. For example, we’d urge anyone at GM&T who’s been feeling the stress and the strain of the past 12 or so months to check out our employee assistance programme. We’d highly recommend seeing if your own employee offers something similar too.”

A further element within this was ensuring the home workstation was fit for purpose. Although a third (34%) of employees did have an office they could work from, nearly two years into the pandemic 44% still complained that they were working from a dining room or kitchen table, while 16% were working from the sofa or even (8%) their bed, putting themselves at risk from musculoskeletal injury.

“If you’ve been struggling with your setup, then it might be time to rethink things. It’s worth investing in a comfy chair if you haven’t already – especially if remote work will continue where you work,” said Trueman.

The survey also found strong support (77%) for returning to the office in some capacity, but with more flexible, hybrid working the preferred model. A total of 41% said they would still like to work two or three days a week from home.