Massachusetts Employees are Drinking While Working at Home
Tips For Employees And Employers To Curb The Problem Of Substance Abuse Among Remote Workers.
According to the Occupational Health and Well Being blog on the Magazine Personnel Today website, 9-out-of-10 people admitted to drinking alcohol at least once while working from home. The survey conducted by, Protecting, a health and safety software company, asked 1,300 remote workers about their drinking habits during the pandemic. Their results were startling.
- 90% admitted to drinking while working at least once.
- 83% said they drank while working from home at least twice per week.
- 93% said they had consumed more alcohol during the pandemic than they had previously.
- 26% admitted their alcohol consumption increased between March and June when most bars and restaurants were closed during the first lockdown.
Blurring the Boundaries of Work and Home
Harvard Business School Professor Jeffrey Polzer was on CBS Sunday Morning in January 2021 and summed up one of the major challenges of working from home. According to Polzer, “The boundary between work and personal life has really, in many cases, become obliterated…maybe you’re sending some personal emails at night, but they’re mixed in with your work emails. And by the way, you’re working from your bedroom and your office and your kitchen.”
It’s this lack of clear definition between “what is work” and “what is home” that has many remote workers mixing drinking with their daily routine. There is not likely beer and wine in your work lunch room, but when going to lunch means walking into the kitchen, the temptation of having a beer or glass of wine can be right in your face.
Substance Abuse in MA
Another study published on Alcohol.org indicated 29% of homeworkers in MA are regularly drinking during work hours. Breaking it down further, approximately 36% of men and 26% of women in Massachusetts were drinking and working at the same time. The men surveyed were more likely to drink beer, while women tend to prefer cocktails while on the job. A startling 22% of men admitted to drinking straight liquor while working.
As of March 18th, 2021, only 15% of Massachusetts residents (approximately 960K people) have been vaccinated against COVID-19 according to the most recent data. Because of the staggered rollout that favored higher-risk individuals first, only a small fraction of that number are people who would likely be working from home. This means that for many employers, the start of third fiscal quarter in August is the earliest possible time for a return to regular in-person work in an office setting. Even then, as many as 44% of employees in MA will have some sort of hybrid at-home work policy moving forward.
This means that the substance abuse challenges faced by remote employees in Massachusetts will not be going away any time soon.
Tips to Avoiding Drinking While Working from Home
A study published in 2020 indicated that 21.2% of adults in MA binge drink. That number is only bound to go up as the isolation of working from home both promotes and enables people to drink more than they normally would. Here are a few suggestions from substance abuse and workplace experts on how to avoid drinking while working at home.
- Remember the Rules – Work as if you were actually in the office. Would you normally have a drink at your desk or go out for beers at lunch? If you wouldn’t do it in the office, don’t do it at home.
- Get Some Exercise – The most popular reason people drink at home is “to relieve stress.” The reality is that alcohol can increase panic and anxiety disorders, depression, and other mental health challenges. Substitute exercise for drinking. It is a much better stress reliever and will help fill up the day.
- Find Online Support – If you have a history of substance abuse and have been through treatment, there are several technology options for online support – from Zoom AA meetings to apps for your phone. The website comlists The 7 Best Online Sobriety Support Groups of 2021.
- Keep a Diary of Your Daily Drinking – As with most bad habits, keeping an honest record of your consumption can help identify or stop a problem.
- Don’t Stockpile Alcohol – With most stores back to full-service capacity, the need for buying in large has diminished. Experts suggest that having large amounts of alcohol in the house can tend to increase temptation and consumption. If you already have purchased in bulk, store it somewhere that you are unlikely to run into it during work hours. Out of site, out of mind.
- Set Regular Check-ins – Whether it is with a boss, co-worker, or friend, a regularly scheduled Facetime or Zoom call can help reduce isolation and keep you accountable.
- Establish Boundaries – It’s easy to mix work and personal time when you are remote. People with children at home are often finding themselves working nights and weekends to catch up. Working when you normally would be playing can contribute to unprofessional behavior like drinking.
- Ask for Help – If you think you are developing a drinking problem, help is just a phone call or mouse click away. Topsail Addiction Treatment has professionally-trained staff available 24×7 to help you deal with substance abuse disorders. Call 978-475-0002 or click here to get help.
Tips For Employers To Help Workers With Substance Abuse Issues
When coming to the office every day, it can be easier to spot the signs of a substance abuse problem. You may smell it on their breath, they could be slurring their speech, coming back from lunch late, or taking frequent breaks to sneak off and drink. But for employees working from home, a problem can be significantly easier to hide. Here are a few things that you can do to help your employees who work remotely.
- Talk to Your Employees – It may seem obvious, but scheduling regular check-ins with staff can help reduce the sense of isolation and identify problems earlier. If you aren’t already using video conferencing (like Zoom), you should start. Random check-ins are also important to maintain accountability.
- Offer Support – Let your employees know that help is available and remind them how they can get it (Through HR, a third party, website, etc.) Make it clear to employees that if they’re struggling, it’s OK to ask for help.
- Train Your Management and HR: Your management team was likely never trained on working with remote employees. Invest in training for them to recognize signs of substance and help them to feel better prepared to address the situation should it arise.
- Establish Regular Working Hours: Too often, the boundary between personal time and work time gets blurred while working from home. Let your employees know that you expect them to be in professional state during a set period of hours during the day.
- Set A Work from Home Policy – Your staff should know how they are expected to act while working at home and what workplace policies they have agreed to. If there is one already in place, remind them of it.
- Remind Them of Their Benefits- Most work-sponsored health plans contain specific treatment options for substance abuse.
- Provide Testing – In some cases, testing may become necessary to test your employees. You can contract a lab and mail home-testing kits, if needed.
Substance Abuse Treatment in MA
Topsail Addiction Treatment in Massachusetts is a new substance abuse treatment facility in Andover and offers a serene and discrete environment to work through your substance abuse challenges. The caring, compassionate and professional staff offer a variety of substance abuse treatment programs, including Full Day (PHP), Half-day (POP), and weekly (OP) treatments. There is also a Night-Time IOP treatment program that is ideal for working professionals.
Topsail Addiction Treatment is easy to get to and convenient to Route 128, Route 495, Route 95, and Route 93. Our recovery center has been tailored for privacy, safety, and recovery. If you or a loved one is ready to start the journey to recovery, call 978-475-0002 or click here 24-hours a day and talk to one of our caring and professional addiction team.
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