Female business coworkers discussing project marketing report on distance virtual chat at computer monitor.

A study by researchers at Ohio State University found that people working remotely or in hybrid work arrangements tend to report higher rates of anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues.

The study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, analyzed survey data from over 43,000 U.S. adults collected from April to August 2020, during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. Researchers looked at relationships between work location, mental health, and physical health.

Results showed that compared to working on-site, working remotely full time was associated with higher odds of anxiety, depression, insomnia, and other common mental health conditions. Hybrid schedules, involving a mix of remote and on-site work, also correlated with poorer well-being.

“Our findings suggest that hybrid and fully remote work arrangements may pose risks for employee mental health and well-being,” the study authors concluded. They noted that social distability, lack of social support, and work-life imbalance could all contribute to poorer health and well-being in remote work settings.

The study did not find evidence that remote or hybrid work led to worse physical health outcomes. However, the authors suggested that mental health effects could indirectly impact health over the long run. They advised employers to implement evidence-based practices shown to support remote employee well-being, such as providing social support, promoting work-life balance, and encouraging physical activity.

Other experts said the results highlight a need for expanded access to mental health services, especially during widespread remote work. “Employers, policymakers, and health systems should work together to ensure that mental health care is available and affordable for everyone who needs it,” American Psychiatric Association leaders recommended in a statement.

While the study provides important new insights, some limitations remain around its generalizability and ability to conclusively determine causality. Authors also noted that effects could change over time as people adjust to ongoing remote work.

However, the findings add to a body of research raising concerns over risks to well-being in workplaces that rely heavily on virtual collaboration and communication. As hybrid and remote work become more permanent fixtures, continued analysis of impacts on both physical and mental health is needed to develop best practices. Fostering an inclusive culture with robust support systems will be key to reaping the benefits of flexible work models while mitigating harm.

For employees, results highlight the importance of advocating for one’s own health and setting clear boundaries to sustain well-being, even in remote work environments. With proactive risk management, the potential upsides of remote work can be realized without compromising well-being.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *