The aches, pains and mental strain of working from home
A survey conducted by the Christian National Trade Union (CNV) has found that 41 percent of its members reported suffering from more physical ailments when working from home compared to working in an office. The union is therefore asking for an allowance for physiotherapy.
Home offices don't meet Dutch health requirements
The survey, which was completed by more than 2.600 CNV members, found that 44 percent of respondents felt their home office didn’t meet health and safety requirements, while 41 percent claimed they suffered from more shoulder, neck, or back pain when working from home.
CNV chairman Piet Fortuin said he was shocked and saddened by the survey results, stating that at-home working conditions didn’t meet national health standards: “The laptop is on the kitchen table, the chair is too low, the laptop is flat. At work, the screen is at the right height, you often don't have that at home.”
The mental strain of working from home
While many studies have found that working from home has actually lead to increased productivity - the CNV survey found half of workers felt more productive when working remotely, with 51 percent saying they wasted less time on “useless meetings” - this higher productivity is offset by increased mental strain: 33 percent of respondents feel isolated, around 35 percent struggle to concentrate on their job, and 28 percent feel more exhausted.
Furthermore, as the days get colder and shorter, the CNV also highlights the impact darker days have on the mental wellbeing of employees. Workers now find it harder to go outside for some fresh air - 54 percent of survey respondents said they went out for fresh air more regularly in the spring during the first lockdown than they do now.
“This really has to change,” Fortuin said. “We call on all home workers to go out for an hour during the day. To exercise and to relax. Simple but effective.”
Keeping fit and staying healthy when working from home
The results of the survey also showed that around 10 percent of people had started seeing a physical therapist more regularly since they switched to working predominantly from home.
The union is therefore advocating for a so-called fit package - featuring vouchers for physiotherapy sessions or classes with a personal trainer - to be provided by companies for their employees, to ensure they stay mentally and physically fit and healthy. CNV says the profits made by increased productivity can easily be put back into looking after workers: “'Investments like this easily pay for themselves,” Fortuin argues. “Employees remain healthier because of this support.”
Visit the CNV website to see the full results of the survey.