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Perceived Work Ability during Enforced Working from Home Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic among Finnish Higher Educational Staff

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journal contribution
posted on 2022-06-21, 06:38 authored by Saila Kyronlahti, Subas Neupane, Clas-Hakan Nygard, Jodi OakmanJodi Oakman, Soile Juutinen, Anne Makikangas
Background: Due to COVID-19 pandemic, many employees were forced to suddenly shift to working from home (WFH). How this disruption of work affected employees' work ability is not known. In this study, we investigated the developmental profiles of work ability among Finnish higher education employees in a one-year follow-up during the enforced WFH. Secondly, we investigated demographic, organizational, and ergonomic factors associated with the developmental profiles. Methods: A longitudinal web-survey was conducted with four measurement points (April 2020-February 2021). Employees of a Finnish university who answered the questionnaire at baseline and at least at two follow-up surveys (n = 678) were included (71% women, 45% teachers/research staff, 44% supporting staff, 11% hired students). Perceived work ability was measured on a scale of 1-5 in all timepoints. Latent class growth curve analysis was used to identify profiles of work ability. Multinomial logistic regression was used to determine the associations of demographic factors, perceived stress, musculoskeletal pain, functionality of home for work, and organizational support with the work ability profiles. Results: Six distinct work ability profiles were identified. For most (75%), work ability remained stable during the follow-up. A total of 17% had a favourable trend (very good-stable or increasing) of work ability, and 8% had non-favourable (poor-stable or decreasing). Poor ergonomics at home, low organizational support, high stress, and musculoskeletal pain were associated with non-favourable development of work ability. Conclusions: Heterogeneity in development of work ability during forced WFH was found. Several factors were identified through which work ability can be supported.


The data of the study are part of a larger research project funded by the Finnish Work Environment Fund (number 200392; Principal Investigator Anne Makikangas).


Publication Date



International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health





Article Number





Frontiers Media S.A.



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© 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.