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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

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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.

History

Publication Date

2023-01-03

Journal

BMC Public Health

Volume

23

Article Number

11

Pagination

10p.

Publisher

Springer Nature

ISSN

1471-2458

Rights Statement

© The Author(s) 2022. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data.

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