Enforced home-working under lockdown and its impact on employee wellbeing: a cross-sectional study. 

Kate Platts, Jeff Breckon, Ellen Marshall

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Abstract

Background: The Covid-19 pandemic precipitated a shift in the working practices of millions of people. Nearly half the British workforce (47%) reported to be working at home under lockdown in April 2020. This study investigated the impact of enforced home-working under lockdown on employee wellbeing via markers of stress, burnout, depressive symptoms, and sleep. Moderating effects of factors including age, gender, number of dependants, mental health status and work status were examined alongside work-related factors including work-life conflict and leadership quality. Method: Cross-sectional data were collected over a 12-week period from May to August 2020 using an online survey. Job-related and wellbeing factors were measured using items from the COPSOQIII. Stress, burnout, somatic stress, cognitive stress, and sleep trouble were tested together using MANOVA and MANCOVA to identify mediating effects. T-tests and one-way ANOVA identified differences in overall stress. Regression trees identified groups with highest and lowest levels of stress and depressive symptoms. Results: 81% of respondents were working at home either full or part-time (n = 623, 62% female). Detrimental health impacts of home-working during lockdown were most acutely experienced by those with existing mental health conditions regardless of age, gender, or work status, and were exacerbated by working regular overtime. In those without mental health conditions, predictors of stress and depressive symptoms were being female, under 45 years, home-working part-time and two dependants, though men reported greater levels of work-life conflict. Place and pattern of work had a greater impact on women. Lower leadership quality was a significant predictor of stress and burnout for both men and women, and, for employees aged > 45 years, had significant impact on level of depressive symptoms experienced. Conclusions: Experience of home-working under lockdown varies amongst groups. Knowledge of these differences provide employers with tools to better manage employee wellbeing during periods of crisis. While personal factors are not controllable, the quality of leadership provided to employees, and the ‘place and pattern’ of work, can be actively managed to positive effect. Innovative flexible working practices will help to build greater workforce resilience.

Original languageEnglish
Article number199
JournalBMC Public Health
Volume22
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 29 Jan 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors wish to thank all participating organisations for their role in facilitating this study. The authors wish to thank Will Gould for providing additional support with data analysis.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s).

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