The Impact of Remote Work on Mental and Physical Wellness

Guest Blogger

By Guest Blogger

May 17, 2022

Whether you're eager to return to the office or not, studies have shown that remote work can have negative long-term consequences. Here we share 5 ways employers can help employees reduce the risk. 

Companies with conventional office spaces were required to send their employees home to work remotely—and many of these employees will continue working from home long after the pandemic has passed so it's important to understand what you, as an employer, can do to help.

Understanding the Impact

Since the beginning of lockdowns, there have been numerous studies on the physical and mental effects of remote work, but here are a few key findings from a study conducted by Oracle. In over 11 countries, it shows that 78% of the workforce feel that the pandemic has negatively impacted they’re mental health.

How COVID-10 Negatively Affects Mental Health

Another study done by researchers at the University of Southern California show that among 1000 participants:

  • Over 64% reported having one or more new physical health issues
  • Lower back pain and shoulder pain were reported to have increased by 50% and 42% respectively
  • Workers reduced their physical activity and exercise while increasing their overall food intake
  • Increased food or junk food consumption was associated with decreased physical and mental well-being

From an increase in reports of lower back and neck pain to the emergence of remote work due to the pandemic, people are now learning the drawbacks of working from home. Minor stressors, if left unmanaged, can compound into more significant, long-term negative effects.

But there are things that can be done to mitigate these issues!

5 ways to stay proactive and help your team

A psychologically safe and healthy workplace improves workers' mental well-being while preventing them from negatively impacting their mental health through negligence, recklessness, or intentional behavior.

When it comes to managing a remote workforce, below are five strategies team leaders can use to encourage positive health: 

1. Understand and improve workplace ergonomics

Ergonomics can decrease pain, strengthen muscles, and increase blood flow. Ensure that your employees create a productive, comfortable, designated work area. By creating the optimal work space for you, it can highly be beneficial and generate a healthy work environment.

In our blog The 'Other" Employee Benefit: Ergonomics in the Workplace, you'll learn some of the benefits of incorporating ergonomics into your workplace including who to contact to get a Workplace Ergonomic Assessment.

2. Encourage employees to take breaks from their screens

Allowing your employees to take breaks from their screens works wonders on their health. Gamify the act of standing up from your desk and stretching or going for a walk. Taking a break from your screen can ease anxiety, reduce multitasking, and increase happiness.

3. Ask them how they’re feeling and show you care

Make sure the well-being of your employees are being addressed and taken care of. Happy and healthy employees can increase productivity and the overall company culture. Connect with your employees on a regular basis to gain honest feedback and opinions to build a real relationship. 

If you offer an Employee and Family Assistance Program as part of your group benefits plan, it's a great time to remind employees of this resource. Read: The Valuable Employee Benefit You Might Be Forgetting About.

4. Give your employees additional support

Sign your team up for trials of programs that provide physical or mental health therapy, use qualitative surveys to determine which programs work best, and let your team make the final decision about which provider to work with. Read: Why Mental Health Support is Important in the Workplace.

5. Provide wellness and ergonomics training

An alternative to a Certified Ergonomist that provide ergonomics assessments, there are virtual physical therapy platforms like Phyxable. Their lead practitioner and CEO Dr. Jimmy Feng created a free hour-long session to address the concerns raised by remote workers about nutrition, exercise habits, and the proper ergonomics of home offices.

Session highlights includes:

  • Workouts: When, What, and Why?
  • When and how to meditate first thing in the morning
  • Nutrition: what and how to eat – plus, does intermittent fasting work?
  • I've been having a fantastic day at work.
  • Making a plan for your ideal morning routine.

Note: Simply Benefits does not specifically endorse Phyxable or any other provider. We share this as an informational resource only.

This article was provided by guest blogger: Dr. Jim Feng

Looking for Employee Health & Wellness Help?

We partner with third-party health professionals that can help you improve employee health. Contact us and we'll introduce you.

 Additional Resources

About Simply Benefits

Simply Benefits is Canada's newest fully digital Employee Benefits provider that partners with advisors to deliver group health benefits 100% digitally to Canadian employers. We’re a Third Party Payor (TPP) with a platform that provides three portals to enable Benefits Advisors to manage all client plans online, Employers to efficiently administer employee coverage, and Employees to view, update and use their benefits 24/7 via desktop or smartphone app. We help ENGAGE Employees Anytime, Anywhere, SIMPLIFY the benefits experience, and EVOLVE an Advisors’ benefits business. To learn more, visit our website or connect with us on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube

Employee Benefits Made Simple. 

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