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Remote working linked to positive wellbeing

But paper says training is needed on how to manage its unique demands

Remote working has a positive impact on employee wellbeing, a report suggests.

The Nuffield Health whitepaper, conducted with University of Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan University and written in partnership with Public Policy Projects, reviewed published literature examining the associations between remote working and stress, wellbeing, health and productivity.

The included studies drew upon over 7,000 individuals, looking at organisations of all sizes and across a number of different sectors.

The report said remote working can provide employees with the flexibility to juggle work and home life demands, making it key to attracting and retaining talent.

However, while it was linked to positive wellbeing, the existing research wasn’t conclusive on the impact on levels of stress or productivity because of mixed results.

Nuffield Health said where remote working is a standard part of a working week, it is important for employers to offer training on how to manage the unique demands of remote working to ensure it benefits both the organisation and the employee.

For example, if remote working is undertaken at home it is important to ensure separation of work and home life so that home does not become a place more of demand and less of restoration.

Overall, remote working was found to be positive on wellbeing. Where negative effects were found, it was largely the result of individual traits or factors that could be addressed organisationally, such as ensuring appropriate technology to enable seamless access to work material.

Nuffield Health suggested introducing an organisation-wide policy on remote working.

It said employers should consider the impact working remotely can have on an employee’s mental health.

In addition, managers need to foster social and professional interaction, providing a sense of belonging to a bigger group. Problems that may arise from isolation, stress and mental ill-health need to be understood and advice and help provided, it added.

Ben Kelly, Nuffield Health’s head of clinical research and outcomes, said: “The health and wellbeing of a workforce can have huge implications not just on the employee but also the organisation and the wider economy. By ensuring we are looking after the physical health, mental health and wellbeing of employees we are able to sustain a healthier, happier workforce.”