Study: People who work from home have more insomnia and back pain

When you work from home, you don’t have to worry about your boss lurking over your shoulder, and you don’t have to deal with noisy coworkers distracting you. The big downside? When you can work from anywhere, you could always be working. This is the stress that a new report from the International Labour Organization documents.

When you work anywhere, you can work anytime

Companies that talk about their remote work culture are quick to talk about the work-life balance. No more commutes, no more office rulesWhen you don’t have the stress of a hellish commute, your work day certainly improves. Overall, the ILO found that remote workers had “a reduction in commuting time, greater working time autonomy leading to more flexibility in terms of working time organization, better overall work–life balance, and higher productivity.”

But that flexibility came at a cost to their personal life. When your office is mobile, so is your boss. No place is safe from their demands when they can reach you from your pocket where your phone resides. Highly mobile workers who traveled frequently for their job reported high levels of stress, compared to office workers. They had no oasis away from their employer. They worked longer hours and were more likely to work on the weekends.

Even remote workers who got to work from home experienced some downsides. They reported more insomnia. Forty-two percent of people who worked from home said they woke up repeatedly during the night, compared to only 29% of office-bound employees who reported the same.

A pain in the neck (and back)

They also had more ergonomic-related back pain. Turns out, working from your bed can be bad for your posture. In one of the studies that ILO reviewed, they found that nearly half of remote workers did not have an office chair or a work desk at home, and that one-third had experienced back pain.

If you find yourself in a job that requires you to work remotely, don’t despair. It is possible to create a healthy work-life balance from the comfort of your home if you delineate clear boundaries between your work life and your personal life.