Employers must take steps to support the physical health and wellbeing of workers as they transition to new working arrangements, especially if these working arrangements continue in the future, according to a new report.
All participants were in employment prior to the pandemic and were either working from home (54%), had lost their job (13%) or their employment remained unchanged (34%).
The data found changes in employment were associated with greater sitting and screen time when compared to those whose employment remained unchanged.
“For many Australian workers and employers, COVID-19 paved the way for increased remote work, flexible working and working from home,” the alert says.
“While there are some benefits, including the possibility for greater work-life balance and more time to spend with family, there is a risk of increased sedentary behaviours such as more sitting and increased screen time.”
The researchers say that increases in sedentary behaviour are of a major public health concern due to its known adverse effects on physical and mental health.
“Employers have a duty to preserve the health of their employees, which may also be associated with productivity and days lost to illness in the workplace.”
Comcare is supporting a national trial of evidence-based program BeUpstanding that encourages workers to sit less and move more using an online toolkit. Comcare says it a “good starting point for employers in addressing sedentary behaviours of desk-based workers.”
In 2018, the World Health Organisation (WHO) commenced a program of work to update the 2010 Global Recommendations on Physical Activity for Health, for the first-time providing population-based guidelines on sedentary behaviour. The results of which can be viewed here.
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