La Trobe

File(s) stored somewhere else

Please note: Linked content is NOT stored on La Trobe and we can't guarantee its availability, quality, security or accept any liability.

A rapid review of mental and physical health effects of working at home: how do we optimise health?

© 2020, The Author(s). Background: The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has resulted in changes to the working arrangements of millions of employees who are now based at home and may continue to work at home, in some capacity, for the foreseeable future. Decisions on how to promote employees’ health whilst working at home (WAH) need to be based on the best available evidence to optimise worker outcomes. The aim of this rapid review was to review the impact of WAH on individual workers’ mental and physical health, and determine any gender difference, to develop recommendations for employers and employees to optimise workers’ health. Method: A search was undertaken in three databases, PsychInfo, ProQuest, and Web of Science, from 2007 to May 2020. Selection criteria included studies which involved employees who regularly worked at home, and specifically reported on physical or mental health-related outcomes. Two review authors independently screened studies for inclusion, one author extracted data and conducted risk of bias assessments with review by a second author. Results: Twenty-three papers meet the selection criteria for this review. Ten health outcomes were reported: pain, self-reported health, safety, well-being, stress, depression, fatigue, quality of life, strain and happiness. The impact on health outcomes was strongly influenced by the degree of organisational support available to employees, colleague support, social connectedness (outside of work), and levels of work to family conflict. Overall, women were less likely to experience improved health outcomes when WAH. Conclusions: This review identified several health outcomes affected by WAH. The health/work relationship is complex and requires consideration of broader system factors to optimise the effects of WAH on workers’ health. It is likely mandated WAH will continue to some degree for the foreseeable future; organisations will need to implement formalised WAH policies that consider work-home boundary management support, role clarity, workload, performance indicators, technical support, facilitation of co-worker networking, and training for managers.

Funding

La Trobe University Building Healthy Communities Committee made some financial contribution to the research but were not involved in the study design, data collection/analysis/interpretation, writing of the report or the decision to submit this paper.

History

Publication Date

30/11/2020

Journal

BMC Public Health

Volume

20

Issue

1

Article Number

1825

Pagination

13p. (p. 1-13)

Publisher

BioMed Central

ISSN

1471-2458

Rights Statement

The Author reserves all moral rights over the deposited text and must be credited if any re-use occurs. Documents deposited in OPAL are the Open Access versions of outputs published elsewhere. Changes resulting from the publishing process may therefore not be reflected in this document. The final published version may be obtained via the publisher’s DOI. Please note that additional copyright and access restrictions may apply to the published version.