Conestoga's Canadian Institute for Safety, Wellness & Performance (CISWP) has launched a nationwide research study to examine the work-from-home impacts on the health and well-being of the Canadian workforce.
Since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic in March, millions of Canadians have had the way they live, work and interact with their communities change suddenly and significantly.
“Working from home has become a necessary measure to mitigate the potential transmission of COVID-19,” said CISWP director, Dr. Amin Yazdani. “The traditional office environment no longer exists in the same capacity it once did and working from home has become mandatory for many.”
According to the April Labour Force Survey, more than five million Canadians worked from home during the height of the pandemic and, as of September 2020, over four million workers have continued to work out of their home environment. Coupled with Statistics Canada's report that 25 per cent of businesses indicated they were likely to maintain a work-from-home (WFH) mandate following the pandemic, Yazdani said it is clear the Canadian workforce is experiencing a large and permanent shift in the way we work.
“Although a work-from-home arrangement can be beneficial for many - introducing more flexible working hours, eliminating the need for a commute to the office and reducing office-related distractions - it can also introduce a host of challenges at both the individual and organizational level,” added Yazdani.
Recent studies indicate feelings of loneliness and boredom, increased stress, and a lack of work-life balance, as well as problems with task completion, can be associated with WFH arrangements. These challenges have the potential to be further compounded when WFH arrangements are mandatory and combined with the additional stresses that COVID-19 brings, such as additional caring responsibilities or homeschooling requirements.
“It is important to investigate the impact work-from-home arrangements have on personal and organizational performance and productivity,” Yazdani said. “As the Canadian workforce continues to work from home, it is imperative that we understand the effects it has on mental and physical wellbeing.”
CIWSP is leading a nationwide survey aimed at understanding these impacts. The study will examine the mental and physical effects of working from home and aims to understand how the health and well-being of the Canadian workforce can be protected.
In addition, the results of this national survey will inform the development of organizational strategies to prepare employers to create an effective, resilient and inclusive WFH workplaces and help catalyze awareness and effectively implement WFH policies by aligning WFH strategies to the business goals of the organization.
A parallel study is being conducted with La Trobe University in Australia. Together, the team hopes to learn how to equip organizations with the knowledge and tools necessary to meet the ongoing and future changes to the way we work.
“We are hoping to reach as many Canadian workers as possible and from all sectors of the economy. Responses from the survey are anonymous and will not be linked to a specific employer,” said Dr. Amy Hackney, CISWP’s research scientist and project manager for the study.
Participants who complete the survey have the opportunity to be entered into a draw to win a $50 gift card. The survey takes about 20 minutes to complete and participants can withdraw at any point by closing their web browser.
To participate in the survey, visit: https://conestoga.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_9Qy8QXEXSvhAS0d.
The Canadian Institute for Safety, Wellness & Performance, located within Conestoga's School of Business, works to improve the safety, wellness and performance of the Canadian labour force by generating knowledge, transferring research to practice and strengthening workforce development - all in collaboration with stakeholders.