WATERLOO REGION — People told by their bosses to work from home during the pandemic feel worn out and tired by end of day.
Many suffer aches and pains after sitting too long in bad chairs, peering at small laptop screens on poor desks. Almost half have no separate space to work. A third have no mouse, keyboard, or second screen.
More than a third say their work causes more frustration and stress than it did before.
And yet despite aches and stresses, more than 70 per cent want the option to keep working from home at least three days a week after the COVID-19 pandemic ends.
“It was actually surprising to us to see,” said Amin Yazdani, director of the Institute for Safety, Wellness and Performance at Conestoga College.
The institute surveyed 1,617 Canadians who were sent home to work. They work across various industries. Most have children at home with them.
Yazdani is among those now working from home. He figures people remain keen to work from home because they can save on commuting and parking, they can dress comfortably, they can do their jobs well, they have yet to be unsettled by aches and pains, and because of stigmas around mental health concerns.
People were surveyed between last October and December. Researchers intend to follow up this spring to see if opinions have changed.
The research is aimed at helping employers find ways to better support employees who work from home.
The most common daily pain is in the neck, shoulders or back, the survey found. It is typically considered mild or moderate.
“Many of those injuries are because of poor work station design at home,” Yazdani said.
He said working from home can be productive. Employers can save money. But employers must also invest in home work spaces.
“If your workers are not healthy, they are not going to be able to stay productive. They are not going to be able to be innovative,” he said.
More than five million Canadians have worked from home at some point during the pandemic.
More than three-quarters of people surveyed did not work from home before the pandemic. Most who were surveyed are women. Half are between 26 and 55.
Half feel their home workstation is less comfortable than before.
The research found that people caring for children or other dependents are more likely to report conflicts between job and home life, while working from home.
But while a quarter of respondents see more work-life conflict than before, a third see less work-life conflict and almost half see no difference.
Managers are more stressed than non-managers about working from home, the survey found. Women are more stressed than men.