With the change in companies' willingness to let employees work from home, the present study paints a partly contradictory picture of the relationship between work and leisure. At first glance, for example, the results on the question of what has changed since working from home during the COVID pandemic seem conflicting. 28% of the respondents in the European countries state that the amount of work to be done (workload) has increased and for 25.2% the working hours have increased. At the same time 36% state that they have a better work-life balance and more time for family and friends.
This is what Christian Montag calls the working from home paradox:
"People can certainly work more and have more free time. The elimination of long commutes and generally more flexible scheduling throughout the day alone can make if the organisation is good more time available. Tailored working hours, digital literacy and other well-being factors can also be causes."
For example, 29.4% each say they spend more time exercising and also eat healthier.
Stress has many causes, and the European study Well-being Report Working from Home 22 attempts to map these with a selection of stress factors. Among the participants, 37% stated that they felt stressed to varying degrees. Among other things, the necessary self-catering (8.7%), a poor internet connection (17.2%) and constant accessibility (19.7%) were named as stress factors. However, the lack of communication with colleagues is a stress factor for 35.3% and a lack of separation between private and professional life for 30.3%. In comparison, fewer people reported that environmental noise (15.9%) and poorer pay (9.3%) were stress factors.
"Areas of work are also areas of life and in the age of digitalisation they are changing constantly and very quickly, every industry and every employer has different requirements to which employees must subordinate themselves. In the future, Europe's companies must know that digitality and psychology belong together. Discussions about burnout in the digital age or technostress are becoming increasingly important. Incidentally, the overall sample shows that 20.5% suffer from technostress, this includes for example technical deficiencies such as defective routers, unsuitable equipment, battery problems and more. Technostress at home appears for almost every fifth study participant!"
Working from home is also changing the willingness to specifically not only optimise one's own well-being and improve physical and mental health with non-prescription supplements, but also to increase the ability to concentrate and promote relaxation. A trend towards self-medication is emerging in the European working from home. 34.4% of all participants state that they have taken non-prescription supplements (e.g. melatonin, legal hemp products, plant extracts, vitamins, calming tea) to improve their well-being since the beginning of the pandemic, 18.2% to increase concentration, 13.4% for recovery. Remarkable: While the data in six countries are very similar, the situation in Italy and Austria is different: In Italy, 49.7% said they had taken non-prescription supplements to increase the well-being, whereas in Austria it was less than half, at 22.1%.
Christian Montag: "It is known from numerous research that the COVID pandemic is still a stressor to this day, which manifests itself in significantly reduced psychological well-being for many people and, as the present study shows, some employees resorted to various non-prescription supplements. In the present study ‘Well-being Report Working from Home 22’, 28.9% of the respondents stated that their life satisfaction had deteriorated compared to pre-pandemic times. When people have to continue to function in their daily lives in a personally and globally threatening situation, different coping strategies are used to be able to perform daily tasks - even working from home - despite the tension."
At the beginning of the COVID pandemic and the time spent working from home, a jump in the intake of non-prescription supplements can be seen among those who reported consuming these preparations during the pandemic. The use of legal hemp products (for example CBD oil) to increase well-being has almost doubled since the beginning of the pandemic (24.9% before the pandemic, 43.3% since the beginning of the pandemic). The intake of melatonin as well: from 38% to 62.6%. Christian Montag: “In particular I find the intake of melatonin worrying. Sleep is a natural process that should not be out of sync.”
In order to find out about the well-being of the respondents, they were also asked about the place where the work at home is done. According to the survey, 12.1% have moved their working space to the bedroom, 31.8% have a private office and 35.7% work from the living room. In all eight countries, the average space when working from home is 20.32 m². With 15.35 m², the British have the least space for work at home, while the Italians can spread out over 23.81 m². 1.2% of the participants stated that they work permanently in the toilet/guest toilet, the bathroom or the balcony.
The results of the study Wellbeing Report Working from Home 22 give cause for concern when looking into the future and should also be an alarm signal for Europe's employers: 21.7% of the respondents’ state that they have already planned their termination due to the experiences during the pandemic and working from home, 9.9% have already quit their job. Reasons for the termination that have already taken place are for example: no opportunities to fulfil themselves professionally (34.2%), poorer pay (for example short-time work, loss of commissions, 30.1%) and constant accessibility (16.6%).
Employees are also planning further changes in order to bring their well-being and work into optimal harmony. For example, 33% want to achieve a clearer distinction between private and professional life and 20.9% want to take further training measures. In addition, a certain willingness to work during illness and/or holidays is emerging. Christian Montag: "More and more people seem to be willing to go on sick leave instead of taking time off. Holidays or rest periods are a social achievement, a construct of shelters in which to recuperate or recharge the battery."
In fact, 38.3% feel that working from home is an advantage because you can work despite being sick and only 26.2% say they will not be available for their employer even on their upcoming holiday.
Dr. Klaus von Rottkay, Chief Executive Officer of NFON AG:
"With the study ‘Well-being Report Working from Home 22’, we, as a provider of technologies that are intended to make working at home easier, faster and more efficient, want to record and better understand the pain points of employees in the New Work model. We are learning that companies in Europe need to pay much more attention to the quality of the working environment - people, health and well-being are very important here. New Work is still in its infancy and we entrepreneurs have the biggest influence on making hybrid working models fit for people and companies."
NFON, a European provider of integrated business communications from the cloud, surveyed together with Statista Q, a global specialist in data collection, analysis and market research, employees in Europe* on the impact of the COVID pandemic and working from home. Starting with the question of life satisfaction, the study NFON Survey Attack Well-being Report Working from Home 22 intensively addresses questions on numerous stress and disruptive factors while working from home, ambitions for job changes, the trends towards self-medication as well as the findings on the working from home paradox. The study is accompanied by Professor Dr Christian Montag (Professor of Molecular Psychology, book author and expert on the influence of digital technologies on human psychology). "The results paint a partly worrying picture behind the closed doors when working from home. In psychology, we know that a new work environment, but also new work circumstances can cause stress. The ‘Well-being Report Working from Home 22’ shows that we have to face a new reality: Care for the well-being and life satisfaction of people working from home must be the focus. The office at home is transforming into the new home, it needs constant attention and care so that the new work model in Europe does not have to go for therapy," says Christian Montag.
*Europe: The study NFON Survey Attack Well-being Report Working from Home 22 was conducted in Germany, Austria, Italy, Spain, Great Britain, France, Poland and Portugal with Statista Q and is representative with over 1,000 participants per country. Unless otherwise indicated, the figures given in this press release refer to all eight countries; the local values are listed in a table at the end. The answers of the study participants generally refer to the period from the beginning of the COVID pandemic until today working from home.