Working from home during lockdown: the association between rest breaks and well-being

Ergonomics. 2022 Jul 12;1-11. doi: 10.1080/00140139.2022.2095038. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

One of the challenges with working from home (WFH) is the question of its effect on health and well-being. The impact of home working on health has so far not been studied extensively. We address this gap by investigating the association between internal recovery, operationalised as rest break frequency (low, medium, and high) during the working day, on self-reported musculoskeletal pain, and post-work recovery symptoms in WFH knowledge workers (n = 382). The analysis showed that failing to take frequent breaks was associated with a dose-response increased risk of reporting headaches. For post-work recovery symptoms, failing to take rest breaks throughout the day was associated with an increased risk of reporting psychological fatigue, physical fatigue, and sleep problems, and a decreased risk of psychologically detaching from work and experiencing adequate rest. Our findings emphasise the importance of remote workers taking recovery breaks from work demands in the maintenance of health and well-being. Practitioner Summary: For the foreseeable future, many knowledge workers will be obliged to work from home for at least, some days of the week. It is therefore important for workers to learn to regulate their behaviour, and workers need to be educated about the value of taking regular rest breaks throughout the working day. Abbreviations: ICT: Information and communications technology; MSDs: musculoskeletal disorders; MSPs: Musculoskeletal pain symptoms; OR: Odds ratio; WFH: Working from home; WRRQ: Work-Related Rumination Questionnaire Questionnaire.

Keywords: Remote working; musculoskeletal pain; recovery from work; rest breaks; well-being.