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Organizational and occupational health issues with working remotely during the pandemic: a scoping review of remote work and health.

INTRODUCTION: Stay at home orders during the COVID-19 global pandemic created unprecedented challenges for workers whose work was transferred to the home setting. Little is presently known about the benefits and the challenges associated with global remote work on wellbeing and mental health, work-life balance, job satisfaction, productivity, home office adaptability, and gender equality.

METHODS: A scoping review of PubMed/Medline was undertaken in October 2021 to better understand these broad dimensions associated with remote worker health, wellbeing, and the home office workspace. The review focused on white collar workers who undertook remote work during each of the lockdown waves from March 2020-2021.

RESULTS: A total of 62 studies were included in the review, which spanned Asia, North America, South America, and Europe. Overall, workers seemed to enjoy remote work, but productivity varied. The main setbacks associated with remote work included feelings of isolation and loneliness which negatively influenced wellbeing. Social support from management and contact with colleagues mitigated this. Leadership style also influenced remote worker wellbeing. Overall, women suffered from lower levels of remote work wellbeing and productivity, especially if they had children. The home office and its adaptability were integral for successful remote work. Work-life balance was affected in some workers who struggled with heavier workloads or family duties.

CONCLUSION: To promote wellbeing and successful remote work, isolation and loneliness should be reduced through greater contact with colleagues and managers. Managers should promote family friendly policies that may support work-life balance and reduce gender inequities in remote work.

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