Home Men Health Study finds little evidence of negative impact on mental health from increased home working during pandemic

Study finds little evidence of negative impact on mental health from increased home working during pandemic

Study finds little evidence of negative impact on mental health from increased home working during pandemic

For the reason that onset of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, attributable to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2), home working has significantly increased worldwide. A recent PLoS Medicine study investigated whether home working affected a person’s social and mental well-being. This assessment is incredibly necessary to know how individuals will likely be affected if higher levels of home working are practiced in the long run.

Study: Home working and social and mental wellbeing at different stages of the COVID-19 pandemic within the UK: Evidence from 7 longitudinal population surveys. Image Credit: Dragana Gordic / Shutterstock


The International Labour Organisation reported that 17% of the worldwide workforce worked from home in the course of the second quarter of 2020. In america, the next number of people, i.e., around 37%, were involved with home working in 2020. These numbers were higher than the estimates of 2019, where around 27% to 30% of people were working from home within the UK. 

Interestingly, even when the working-from-home guidance was lifted, the number of individuals working from home was 12% higher than within the pre-pandemic period. It is important to know whether this rapid change within the work environment affected employees’ mental health and well-being across diverse fields. Moreover, it’s imperative to know whether social inequalities, sex, age, hours worked, and education affect the association between home working and mental health.

In regards to the Study

The present study analyzed data from seven UK population-based studies, which included three age homogenous and 4 age-heterogeneous birth cohorts. The age-homogenous studies were Next Steps (NS), the 1970 British Cohort Study (BCS70), and the 1958 National Child Development Study (NCDS). The age-heterogeneous birth cohorts that were included on this study were Understanding Society or the UK Household Longitudinal Study (USOC), Generation Scotland (GS), the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA), and Born in Bradford (BiB).

All participants were assessed at three key periods, i.e., from April to June 2020 (T1), from July to October 2020 (T2), and from November 2020 to March 2021 (T3). At T1, an initial increase in SARS-CoV-2 infection occurred, and the primary national lockdown was implemented. During T2, initial restrictions were eased, while at T3, the infection rate increased, and the second national lockdown was initiated.

Participants between 16 and 66 years of age were recruited on this study. The surveys obtained information on mental health and social well-being before and after the pandemic. As well as, the harmonized analyses inside each study and pooling of the estimates helped generate evidence on how home working affected mental well-being in the course of the pandemic.

Study Findings

A complete of 10,367 participants at T1, 11,585 at T2, and 12,179 at T3 were included on this study. Based on USCO data, before the pandemic, around 30% of the population worked from home. The numbers increased at T1 ranging between 32.9% and 65.5% across studies.

A limited variety of studies have indicated that home working enhanced social contact at T1. Similarly, when the restrictions were eased at T2, no significant association between home working and social/mental well-being was found. Interestingly, those that were partially working from home and above 50 years of age were at an increased risk of psychological distress. An analogous statement was made for many who were working full-time outside home settings.

On the implementation of the second lockdown within the UK, each full and partial home working increased the chance of psychological distress and loneliness, particularly for many who were between 30 and 49 years of age and with no educational degree. This might be because people belonging to this age group faced additional pressures resulting from home-schooling responsibilities and child care.

A varied impact of home working on individuals was found based on population subgroups. Many individuals lost jobs, were furloughed, and experienced changes of their working hours in the course of the pandemic. In the course of the pre-pandemic period, home working was related to multiple advantages, including work satisfaction, greater worker productivity, reduced sick leave, and higher perceived work–life balance.

Study Limitations

The present study has many limitations that, include the presence of unobserved confounding aspects and lack of pre-pandemic data in most observational studies. Though pre-pandemic well-being was adjusted for, there’s a possibility of changes in well-being after measurement. The definition of home working is complex and might be categorized into multiple divisions, corresponding to distant work, telework, work from home, and home-based work. 


No significant antagonistic effects on social and mental well-being were found with increased home working. Nevertheless, some studies indicated that home working was weakly related to an elevated risk of loneliness and psychological distress when the national lockdown was re-introduced. Nevertheless, when restrictions were eased, no such outcomes were observed. In the long run, more research and continual monitoring are needed to raised understand whether home working increases inequalities in social and mental well-being.


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