Working from home during the COVID 19 pandemic: a longitudinal examination of employees’ sense of community and social support and impacts on self-rated health
journal contributionposted on 2023-01-25, 04:17 authored by Melissa GrahamMelissa Graham, Katrina LambertKatrina Lambert, Victoria WealeVictoria Weale, Margaret StuckeyMargaret Stuckey, Jodi OakmanJodi Oakman
Background: The COVID 19 pandemic resulted in the introduction of public health measures including mandated and recommended work from home orders to reduce transmission. This provided a unique opportunity to examine sense of community and social support within the workplace and self-rated general health. This paper examines employees’ workplace sense of community and social support across one year of the COVID 19 pandemic and associated self-rated general health. Methods: Analysis of longitudinal data (October 2020, May 2021, and November 2021) from the Employees Working from Home study conducted in Victoria, Australia during the COVID 19 pandemic was undertaken. Trajectory analyses were used to describe workplace sense of community and social support over time. Multinomial logistic regression was used to determine the associations between demographics, gender, caring responsibilities, and group membership based on the Growth Mixture Modelling. Generalised Mixed Models were used to measure effects of sense of community and social support on self-rated health. Results: Increasing sense of community and social support in the workplace resulted in increased self-rated health. Trajectory analysis found two stable and distinct groups for sense of community. Social support varied with time; however, trajectory membership was not dependent on gender or caring responsibilities and had no relationship with return to the office. Conclusion: Sense of community and social support in the workplace are important determinants of employees’ health, and as such, workplace strategies to improve sense of community and social support are required not only for employees working from home, but also those who have returned to the office, particularly as hybrid work arrangements become more common.