Working from home can affect health and productivity: Study

PHOTO: Working from home can affect health and productivity: Study

SINGAPORE - While working from home might sound like a popular and practical option for Singaporean workers wanting to cut commutes and spend more time with their families, the reality is somewhat different says a new study.

The study, commissioned by provider of flexible workplaces Regus, found that over two-thirds of workers complained that they were regularly put off by their kids or family demanding attention.

And that's not the only thing getting in the way: Over one in 10 workers complained of bad posture as a result of working at makeshift home offices.

Good posture is critical to ensuring that workers do not suffer repetitive strain injury and permanent damage, and bad posture can lead to serious health problems later on in life.

These are some of the key findings of a global survey of interviews with more than 24,000 business-people from over 90 countries.

"Working from home can clearly affect your concentration and productivity," said Filippo Sarti, Regus Asia CEO.

"Employees are naturally keen to benefit from flexible working practices, so they can avoid lengthy commutes, and work the hours that suit them, in order to improve their work-life balance. But these findings suggest that a professional environment close to home is preferable to actual home-working, so as to avoid strain on families, to project a professional image, and to improve overall productivity," he said.

For Singaporean workers the three biggest issues when working from home are: Children or family demanding attention (67 per cent); difficulties accessing office equipment (40 per cent) and difficulties concentrating on work issues (37 per cent).

Twelve per cent complained of bad posture at home due to their unsuitable home office arrangements and lack of a proper work surface was also a problem for nearly a quarter of respondents.

"Bad posture can result in serious health problems such as repetitive strain injury for the individual - and lost time and productivity for the employer. The survey highlights that home-working may not provide a suitable professional environment and may well damage your health," Mr Sarti said.

"In addition to our survey findings, there are reports of home-workers feeling lonely, alienated and cut off from colleagues. It seems that office 'face-time' also plays an important role in helping workers secure promotions, with employees that work from home being overlooked even in firms that actively encourage staff to work from home at least occasionally," he added.

In the study, respondents were asked which they felt were the biggest challenges to productivity when working from the home. The survey was managed and administered by the independent organisation MindMetre.