When the pandemic started, many companies asked their employees to work from home to avoid getting sick from the virus. The decision to let employees work from home also prevents the spread of the coronavirus. While the remote work arrangements allowed people to stay safe at home, it also resulted in some work-related injuries unique to work-from-home environments.
Industry watchers say employees can avoid these injuries and other ailments while they are working from home. But they need to make some enhancements in the workspaces to prevent these injuries from happening.
Back and Neck Pain
Research in Italy looked into musculoskeletal pain among employees who started working at home during the pandemic. It can be noted that Italy was among the worst-hit countries when the pandemic started last year. The study showed around 41 percent of employees with work-from-home arrangements with the companies experienced lower back pains. On the other hand, around 24 percent experienced neck pains.
The neck pain among 50 percent of employees who work at home said the pain worsened while around 52 percent said the lower back pain worsened. Of all the employees who worked at home, around 39 percent felt that they were less productive. Around 39 percent also said their stress levels went down after they started working at home.
These musculoskeletal issues were traced back to the improvised workspaces of the employees. Many of these home workspaces included using a stack of books as a stand-up desk, an ordinary chair that did not provide any lumbar support, and a coffee container to support the monitor.
These workarounds did not provide the ergonomics that make the workstation suitable for the employees to use. Employees who work on the kitchen island may also experience back and neck issues after some time.
The employees can get some relief from chronic back pain by visiting a chiropractor. But the issue may continue if they do not make the necessary adjustments at home. For instance, they can go on a video chat with spine experts and show them how the workspace looks like. The experts can provide recommendations on what the employees need to do.
The employees can put the monitor around an arm’s length away. The hips and knees of the employee should be at a 90-degree angle while they are working. Additionally, they should also avoid working on a couch or their bed for a long period.
It’s also best to get an office chair that provides the support the body needs. These chairs typically offer lower back support, have an armrest, and promote a proper resting eye level. Using these types of chairs helps reduce aches and pains the employees will feel while working at home.
Another issue that employees experienced after they started working from home is eye strain. Staying in front of the computer for hours can cause blurred vision and a slight headache. There are also instances when the employee feels a burning feeling in the eyes and some sensitivity to light.
These are just some of the issues work-from-home employees will have to deal with. The main reason for these issues is the sustained focus on the computer screen. The eye muscles typically contract when people focus on the screen and relax when they look away from the screen. And since everything is done on the computer during the pandemic, employees have fewer chances of looking away from the screen.
But there are some things that the employees can do to reduce the risk of eye strain. They can reduce the glare of the screen to a comfortable level. The employees can also follow the 20-20-20 rule, or for every 20 minutes of look at the screen, they can take a break and look at objects around 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
Blinking can also help since people tend to blink less than the usual number when working on a computer. Lastly, they can have their eyes checked so that they can get computer glasses they can use while working.
Mental health is an issue that has been affecting remote workers ever since the pandemic started. Since many people are new to the work-from-home setup, they do not know what to expect. They end up removing the boundaries between their personal life and professional life since their homes are not designed for remote work.
Employees have several options to improve their mental health while working from home. They can follow a set schedule, exercise, get enough rest, and connect with family and friends outside of work.
While employees can experience some health issues as they work from home, they can deal with these issues and become productive while remotely working.