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The relationship between homeworking during COVID-19 and both, mental health, and productivity: a systematic review

Publication date: 

27 Jun 2023


BMC Psychology volume 11, Article number: 188 (2023)


Hall CE, Davidson L, Brooks SK, Greenberg N and Weston D

Publication type: 



Abstract Background As of March 2020, the UK public were instructed to work from home where possible and as a result, nearly half of those in employment did so during the following month. Pre-pandemic, around 5% of workers chose to work from home; it was often seen as advantageous, for example due to eliminating commuting time and increasing flexibility. However, homeworking also had negative connotations, for example, blurred boundaries between work and home life due to a sense of constant connectivity to the workplace. Understanding the psychological impact of working from home in an enforced and prolonged manner due to the COVID-19 pandemic is important. Therefore, this review sought to establish the relationship between working from home, mental health, and productivity. Methods In January 2022, literature searches were conducted across four electronic databases: Medline, Embase, PsycInfo and Web of Science. In February 2022 grey literature searches were conducted using Google Advanced Search, NHS Evidence; Publications and the British Library directory of online doctoral theses. Published and unpublished literature which collected data after March 2020, included participants who experienced working from home for at least some of their working hours, and detailed the association in terms of mental health or productivity were included. Results In total 6,906 citations were screened and 25 papers from electronic databases were included. Grey literature searching resulted in two additional papers. Therefore, 27 studies were included in this review. Findings suggest the association between homeworking and both, mental health and productivity varies considerably, suggesting a complex relationship, with many factors (e.g., demographics, occupation) having an influence on the relationship. Conclusion We found that there was no clear consensus as to the association between working from home and mental health or productivity. However, there are indications that those who start homeworking for the first time during a pandemic are at risk of poor productivity, as are those who experience poor mental health. Suggestions for future research are suggested.