Working from home health and safety: Tips on how to achieve employee well-being

Gina Schumacher

The modern workplace has changed dramatically. Working from home has become an integral part of it, offering flexibility and convenience, but also posing health challenges for employees. This article looks at the ergonomic challenges in the workplace, the various health implications and practical measures to help individuals maintain physical and mental wellbeing when working from home.

A male employee is working from home and struggles with his physical health, because his back hurts.

What does ergonomics mean?

Ergonomics is the science of designing and setting up the workplace for employees. It focuses on optimising the working environment in order to reduce physical strain, discomfort, and the risk of injury. In the context of working from home, ergonomics is about creating a workplace that promotes comfort and efficiency while minimizing health risks. Ergonomic working is crucial for the health of employees for several reasons:

● Prevention of musculoskeletal disorders: Proper ergonomics can help prevent musculoskeletal disorders such as back and neck pain and repetitive strain injuries.

Increased productivity: A well-designed workstation can increase productivity by reducing distractions and discomfort. You're not constantly preoccupied with finding a comfortable position or massaging your neck, so you can concentrate better on your work.

Mental well-being: Ergonomics also plays a role in mental health, as a comfortable and well-organised workplace can significantly reduce stress.

A man is sitting in a crouch in front of his laptop showing very bad ergonomics.

Work-from-home health: Challenges and solutions

Working-from-home: Physical health

Whilst companies like Flexopus can provide ergonomic workstations in the office, remote working brings with it various challenges that can affect the physical health of employees working from home. Prolonged sitting in unsuitable chairs and poor posture can lead to chronic back pain and discomfort. Long periods of staring at computer screens can lead to eye strain, headaches, and visual impairment. Reduced physical activity due to the lack of a daily commute and possibly lack of access to a gym at work can contribute to a sedentary lifestyle.

Working-from-home: Mental health

In addition to these physical problems, mental health problems such as isolation and loneliness or stress and burnout can also occur when working from home. The lack of personal interaction with colleagues can strengthen those feelings. The lack of personal contact can affect general well-being and job satisfaction. Also, the blurring of boundaries between work and private life can lead to increased stress and the risk of burnout.

Measures to improve work-from-home health issues

A woman is sitting on a gymnastics ball in front of her laptop and has a very good ergonomic posture.

Workplace design

To improve ergonomic quality in the remote office, it is important to take a holistic approach. Measures to improve ergonomics can include:

Choosing the right furniture and equipment: Invest in ergonomic furniture, an adjustable chair, and an ergonomic keyboard and mouse to create a comfortable workspace. Many employers have been providing this equipment since the switch to hybrid working.

Ergonomic workstation: Set up your workstation so that your monitor is at eye level, your feet are flat on the floor and your arms form a 90-degree angle when typing.

Taking breaks and encouraging exercise

Regular breaks: Take short breaks to stretch and move to prevent stiffness and stimulate circulation.

Exercise routine: Incorporate regular physical activity into your daily routine, e.g. stretching exercises, yoga, or workouts at home.

Screen time and eye health

20-20-20 rule: Take a 20-second break every 20 minutes and look at something about 20 metres away to rest your eyes. It's best to look out the window and focus on a tree or a flying bird.

Proper lighting: Ensure your workspace is adequately lit to avoid glare and eye fatigue.

Promoting mental health when working-from-home

A young woman is working from home and seems to struggle with her mental health.

Social interactions in the home office: Plan virtual meetings and maintain regular contact with colleagues to counteract feelings of isolation.

Stress management: Practise stress reduction techniques such as mindfulness, meditation, and clear boundaries between work and private life.

How can employers support employee health?

Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs): Employers can offer Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs) to provide mental health support and resources for remote employees. EAP is an intervention programme that helps employees deal with personal issues that may impact their job performance.

Regular health screenings: By proactively seeking regular screenings, remote workers can protect their well-being and address potential health issues on time, contributing to long-term productivity and job satisfaction.

Conclusion: How to stay healthy while working from home

While working from home offers numerous benefits, it also poses significant challenges to employees' health. Because ergonomics are critical in the mobile office, both individuals and employers should take proactive steps to create a workplace that prioritizes physical and mental well-being.

By adhering to ergonomic principles, taking regular breaks, and engaging in exercise routines, remote workers can mitigate the health risks associated with remote work. Employers can support their remote workforce by providing resources and programs that promote employee well-being.

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Markus Merkle
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