COVID-19 pandemic creates new causes of 'workplace' stress

·2-min read
Working from home can make it more difficult to separate personal and work life. Photo: Getty.
Working from home can make it more difficult to separate personal and work life. Credit: Getty.

The global pandemic has created new causes of job-related stress displacing the traditional pressure of ever-increasing workloads, according to new research.

The top three COVID-19 induced enhancers of job stress are concern about income, fear of being exposed to the virus when returning to work, and concern about potential job loss.

A survey of 700 UK workers by the University of Birmingham also found working from home enhanced job stress in two key areas. Workers were most anxious about being unable to separate personal life from work whilst working from home and the general stress created by working from home.

Dr Eric Shiu, lecturer in marketing and innovation management, who led the research said: “Job stress is not a new phenomenon in any industrial society and, historically, workload has been a key contributor to workplace anxiety. Yet COVID-19 has caused other factors to suddenly take the centre stage in influencing people’s levels of job stress."

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He also said the findings illustrated the link between job stress and disaster.

"Hurricane Sandy struck North America in 2012 and left communities with a greater job loss problem and people experiencing a higher risk of post-traumatic stress disorder. One year after the September 11 terror attack, victims were still afraid of potential job loss and job security,” he said.

And working from home can increase negative factors because it breaches the work and family boundaries, explained Dr Shiu.

"Home working can also lead to disruption of circadian rhythms – contributing to sleeping and eating disorders, which then lead to psychological stress.”

The research resonates with a pair of polls released in September which showed the shift to remote working during the pandemic had boosted productivity for some but had negative mental health impacts on others.

Some remote workers said they faced challenges when trying to separate their personal and professional lives, resulting in a negative impact on their overall well-being.

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