While the initial focus on remote workers was keeping them productive, but employers are pivoting to focusing on getting and keeping their employees healthy. It took a couple of months for employees to shift into a new routine, but many are finding their health is suffering as a part of their “new normal” — even if that new normal now includes some in-office days. Employers are looking at their employee’s health holistically, their mental and physical health, and finding that remote work is having a detrimental effect on certain areas of their health.
Home offices are not ergonomically designed, and many people (46%) are working from shared living spaces like dining tables, beds or couches and trying to make corners of their home a new home office. Only roughly a third (33%) of employees have a dedicated office space in a separate room. Even those who have a dedicated office space may not have a proper chair or desk setup. As a result, many employees are now experiencing new or worsening back and neck pain. The Hinge Health survey has found that 45% of survey respondents said they are experiencing back and joint pain since they started working from home and 71% said the pain has either gotten worse or it’s a new pain they’re experiencing since working from home.
To help your employees adapt to a remote work environment you should share tips on how to avoid additional strain or injury it is recommended that you share tips and information with your employees on how to best setup their at-home workspace to avoid pain. Most information recommends that employees should try to keep their neck straight, sitting back in their chairs and keeping their feet flat on the floor.
Employee’s mental health has also been impacted by the change to remote work. While many employees are enjoying the lack of commute, flexibility and time with family, remote work has decreased their physical activity and increased feelings of isolation. In-office environments would have employees move between conference rooms, walk to one another’s desks and step out for lunch. The decrease in physical activity impacts both mental and physical health.
Those lack of meetings and in-person interactions have also increased feelings of loneliness. Almost half (48%) of the Hinge Health survey respondents said they’re experiencing stress, anxiety, and depression since working from home. Additionally, 73% said their stress, anxiety, and depression have worsened or is a new experience they’re feeling since remote work due to COVID-19. To help improve your employee’s mental health you should encourage movement and stretch breaks throughout the day. Changing meeting start times back by 5 or 10 minutes will give employee’s a break from back-to-back meetings and give them time to get up and walk around. It is important for leaders to model the behavior so that employees feel comfortable taking those couple of minutes for movement and self-care. Additionally, encourage getting adequate sleep and provide tools for developing healthy sleep habits. Finally, encourage getting treatment for mental health issues, especially through virtual health visits.