In a new study, the researchers have compared individuals when they work from home to when they work at their offices. Participants wore an accelerometer, a motion sensor, for seven days and kept a diary to note sleep and working hours. The results surprised the researchers.
‘By comparing the same individual at home and at the office, we have been able to eliminate results that clouded the picture. In earlier studies, individuals who worked from home had different work tasks, higher education or a higher position than the office workers they were compared to,’ David Hallman explains.
Lack of sleep a major social issue
Lack of sleep is a major and growing social problem, and more time for sleep gives the individual health benefits. The researchers in occupational health science at Gävle determined that when working from home, the participants slept 34 more minutes than on the days when they worked at the office.
‘They redistributed their time so that they got more sleep and less time awake, but they still worked eight hours a day. We think that because they didn’t need time to get ready for work and for commuting etcetera, they found extra time for recovery. Many people sleep too little and that could lead to many health issues for you in the long run and may shorten your life. Half an hour means a lot.’
Homeworkers are not less productive
Most participants claimed that they were equally productive as before the pandemic. Among those who claimed that there was a change, a majority claimed that they produced more. ‘60% stated that their productivity was unchanged, while 20% claimed that productivity had increased, and 15% noted a decrease in productivity.’
No difference in physical activity
There is a concern that working from home may lead to more sedentary behaviour. But researchers could not establish any difference in sedentary behaviour and physical activity when participants worked at home compared to when they worked at the office. Concerning well-being, a third stated that there was no change, while a third stated they felt better, and a third noted a deterioration.
‘We may conclude that working from home works very well for many people, but for a certain group, it works less well. We need to understand this group more fully so that we can prepare certain actions to assist them. We have a very unique material here, as office workers have been allowed to work at the office during the pandemic here in Sweden. We will now look at how we can do this after the pandemic so that it works well for everyone.’