Home working and its association with social and mental wellbeing at different stages of the COVID-19 pandemic: evidence from seven UK longitudinal population surveys

Publication type

Journal Article


Publication date

October 4, 2022


Background: Home working rates have increased since the COVID-19 pandemic’s onset, but the health implications of this transformation are unclear. We assessed the association between home working and social and mental wellbeing through harmonised analyses of seven UK longitudinal studies.

Methods: We estimated associations between home working and measures of psychological distress, low life satisfaction, poor self-rated health, low social contact, and loneliness across three different stages of the COVID-19 pandemic (T1= Apr-Jun 2020 – first lockdown, T2=Jul-Oct 2020 – eased restrictions, T3=Nov 2020-Mar 2021 – second lockdown), in seven population-based cohort studies using modified Poisson regression and meta-analyses to pool results across studies.

Findings: Among 34,131 observations spread over three time points, we found higher rates of home working at T1 and T3 compared with T2, reflecting lockdown periods. Home working was not associated with psychological distress at T1 (RR=0.92, 95%CI=0.79-1.08) or T2 (RR=0.99, 95%CI=0.88-1.11), but a detrimental association was found with psychological distress at T3 (RR=1.17, 95%CI=1.05-1.30). Poorer psychological distress associated with home working was observed for those educated to below degree level at T2 and T3. Men working from home reported poorer self-reported health at T2.

Interpretation: No clear evidence of an association between home working and mental wellbeing was found, apart from greater risk of psychological distress associated with home working during the second lockdown, but differences across sub-groups may exist. Longer term shifts to home working might not have adverse impacts on population wellbeing in the absence of pandemic restrictions but further monitoring of health inequalities is required.

Published in






Open Access

The copyright holder for this preprint is the author/funder, who has granted medRxiv a license to display the preprint in perpetuity. It is made available under a CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 International license



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