The findings, released on National Work From Home Day, reveal that over half of home-workers (51 per cent) have sustained injuries, aches and pains as a result of their working environment, which is 10 per cent1 more likely than those working in a ‘traditional’ workplace.
The research highlighted that not having the right work set-up at home could be the cause, one in four (25%) home-workers do not have a dedicated workspace at home and half of home-workers admit to hunching over while working. 40 per cent said they regularly work from their bed or sofa, all of these factors increase the risk of musculoskeletal injury, with the most common problems experienced being backache (24 per cent) and neck-ache (20 per cent).
And it is not only physical health that is at risk. Nearly half (47%) of workers say they work longer hours when at home compared to their primary place of work, and often longer than stated in their contract. Over a prolonged period this can result in increased levels of fatigue and stress.
However, the study found that working from home does also come with a range of health benefits. The flexible nature of home working means that three in five (58 per cent) are able to build exercise into their day, and the same proportion say they eat more healthily. Two thirds (66 per cent) say they are able to take regular breaks from their work area, which is good for both mental and physical health.
In general, employers are supportive of home working, and want to ensure their employees are able to work safely and efficiently, 38 per cent of home workers were helped by their employer to ensure they have a suitable home-based workspace. As flexible working can have health and wellbeing benefits, Bupa has created a checklist to support employers and their employees whether they are working from their kitchen table or sofa.
Damian McClelland, Clinical Director for Musculoskeletal Services, Bupa UK said:
“Working from home is a flexible benefit which is growing in popularity, however there are physical risks involved if people do not take the same precautions as they do in the workplace.
“Employers ensure their employees have an appropriate workspace at work, if someone doesn’t regularly work from home they may not have ergonomic furniture or the correct technology needed to avoid physical health issues, such as neck and back pain.
“All of this which could result in time off work which is why we have created a home-working health checklist.”
Rebecca joined the HRreview editorial team in January 2016. After graduating from the University of Sheffield Hallam in 2013 with a BA in English Literature, Rebecca has spent five years working in print and online journalism in Manchester and London. In the past she has been part of the editorial teams at Sleeper and Dezeen and has founded her own arts collective.