Just under half of the employees who are remote working are experiencing physical pain due to poor home office set-up.
This is according to Ascenti, a physiotherapy group report ‘Are Home-Workers Sitting Comfortably’ which found that 49 per cent of remote workers are experiencing back, neck, shoulder and hand pain due to working from home. The report found that the main reasons leading to worker’s physical pain are being forced to use sofas, beds and bean bags instead of desks. Also, less movement is involved whilst working at home, as there are no colleagues to speak to.
In 2019, musculoskeletal pain affected half-a-million UK workers, which costs businesses £15 billion. As remote working has increased by 10-fold since the COVID-19 outbreak, there are fears this number could dramatically increase.
Just under three-quarters (72 per cent) now use a sofa as their new ‘seat of choice’ to work, over half (56 per cent) now use a bed with 47 per cent using a desk. Research from Hammonds Furniture, specialists in fitted bedrooms found that 9 per cent of staff are now working from their bathrooms whilst working from home.
Younger workers (16-24 year-olds) are more likely to use different work set-ups compared to the office, 91 per cent working in their bedroom, 65 per cent on the floor and 52 per cent from a beanbag.
The report found that an employer’s reputation would grow if they took responsibility for remote working (28 per cent), provide a work computer/laptop (25 per cent), inviting questions about setting up a workspace (19 per cent) and the promise of work-from-home options in the future (26 per cent).
Stephanie Dobrikova, CEO of Ascenti, said:
Creating an ergonomic home office doesn’t have to be expensive and advising employees of simple tricks like using a rolled up towel to provide lumbar spine support and adjusting their seat height with a cushion can really help to protect the health of those who don’t have access to an adjustable chair. Movement and stretches are also important and home-workers should be advised to try to stand up every 20 minutes and move for 20 seconds – our data shows that nearly one in four are now moving less than they used to.
Many home-workers told us that they’re feeling distant from their colleagues and struggling to switch off at the end of the day. Video conferencing can be a good way to stay connected to others, while rounding off the workday with a 30-60 minute walk can help them to stay fit and provides a great way to unwind and transition from worklife to homelife.
From a company culture and employer brand point of view, it’s clear from this research that demonstrating an understanding of the pressures your employees are facing at this time and taking steps to make things easier for them – whether through providing equipment, advice or the offer of flexibility – will go a long way to supporting their health and wellbeing, and in turn improve both their productivity and your reputation as an employer.
Ascenti’s report was based on the opinion of 2,000 employees.