The World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday warned of risks of teleworking for physical health, such as back pains, and mental health, such as social isolation, constant stress and loneliness, while predicting that the trend will continue post-pandemic as employees strive to hone in on its benefits
MOSCOW (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 02nd February, 2022) The World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday warned of risks of teleworking for physical health, such as back pains, and mental health, such as social isolation, constant stress and loneliness, while predicting that the trend will continue post-pandemic as employees strive to hone in on its benefits.
"When properly organized and supported, telework may have positive impacts on workers' physical and mental health and social well-being. However, when the health and safety risks of teleworking are not prevented and workers cannot make healthy choices while teleworking, such work can have significant negative impacts on health," WHO said in a technical brief on healthy and safe telework.
In the brief, WHO highlighted that prolonged computer work in the remote mode may result in musculoskeletal injuries and eye strain, affecting a mental health of teleworkers by contributing to stress. Among other physical risks, WHO underlined thermal discomfort, lighting and electrical safety, and air quality at workers' homes.
While WHO stresses that mental health risks strongly depend on individuals' working preferences, it warned of possible social isolation, a higher incidence of loneliness, worry and guilt. The WHO study also showed that working from home resulted in an increased number of conflicts between family members and colleagues.
Among phycosocial risks, WHO underlined a work pace, longer working hours, and stress-inducing situations when it is more difficult for workers to understand tasks at hand due to a lack of communication. In addition, teleworking puts workers at a higher risk of cyberbullying by colleagues, supervisors, or clients.
WHO and the International Labour Organization (ILO) called for crucial changes to protect employees' health and to mitigate increasing risks of anxiety and stress while teleworking, as people will likely continue working from home after the COVID-19 pandemic, given that employees and workers have seen benefits of the new realm.
WHO and ILO have suggested providing adequate working equipment, guidelines and training to reduce psychosocial and mental health impact, distance leadership and health promotion. The organizations also called for sufficient rest days for employees and the "right to disconnect," meaning that workers cannot be disturbed by employers while off work.