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A just-published study on wellness during the pandemic has revealed a surprisingly high level of mental resilience of the global workforce.

A total of 79% of people reported that they experiencing ‘always on’ working and this has increased in the majority of countries – most notably in Hong Kong (72%) and Singapore (74%) and the UK (78%).

Interestingly, many reported that the working day is longer, with 59% of people saying they were working longer compared to only 18% that thought it had not. This rose by 64% in China.

Other key findings of the study were that there was a reduction in reports of loneliness and that working routines could change permanently once the pandemic is contained.

Just 8% of respondents said they always felt isolated from others in April, compared to 11% in January. When asked if people felt closer to other people, 73% said they did in April, compared to 69% in January. Notably, some markets with comprehensive lockdowns saw improvements notably the UAE, the UK and Spain.

“The decline in the loneliness score is unexpected but highlights the positive impact digital technology can have. We are also seeing a shift in attitudes to work, with people feeling that home-based working has offered some positives, especially in terms of balancing family and work responsibilities,” said Dawn Soo, head of wellness at Cigna International Markets.

Despite working longer hours, people reported that working from home has improved their work life. 76% said their workday is more flexible, suggesting that working routines are likely to change permanently once the pandemic is contained.

People also feel they have become closer to their colleagues during the crisis. A total of 64% agreed that working from home and using technologies to communicate has streamlined connections with their colleagues compared to only 9% of people that said it had not.

Interestingly, the highest satisfaction levels were seen in Asian markets, which are often seen to offer less flexible working when compared to Europe and North America. A total of 73% in China and 65% in Singapore said communication with their colleagues had improved during the crisis.

The UK experienced the biggest decline in the social well-being index among countries surveyed with a significant drop of 4.1 points, driven by a decline in the number of people feeling they have enough time in-person with friends (from 31% to 17%), having enough time to themselves (from 43% to 34%), and feeling they are part of a broader community beyond their family (from 25% to 15%).

Also read: Almost 60% of HR fear losing employees to burnout during home working  

This survey was undertaken by healthcare insurance provider Cigna and engaged 10,204 people across China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Spain, Thailand, the UAE, the UK and the US between January and April 2020.