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HUMAN FACTORS & ERGONOMICS REMOTE ERGONOMICS


Organisations must now address how the dramatic change in working conditions can have long-term implications for the physical and mental health of workers, believes Richard Guy, Country Sales Manager UK & Ireland at Ergotron.


risk, but also their productivity, which ultimately affects their work.


This is why it’s imperative for organisations to support employees in making ergonomic changes they can implement at home - an employee who is working comfortably is naturally happier and more productive.


Three tips to improve ergonomics at home:


In recent weeks the government has changed the national lockdown procedure from a tiering system of restrictions across England, to a nationwide lockdown. This means that those employees who may have been working in the office now and then are more likely to be returning to working from home for the foreseeable future. This changing nature of work patterns means working remotely is no longer a temporary solution to keep the business afloat, but a long-term situation.


THE SURGE IN BACK AND NECK PAINS The almost overnight move to working from


home that many employees had to make, creating makeshift home offices using kitchen worktops and dining room tables, was difficult. It was probably inevitable that in the absence of a proper desk or office chair, many employees soon felt various physical strains from spending eight or so hours sitting in front of their laptops.


According to the Working from Home Wellbeing Survey from the Institute for Employment Studies (IES), many remote workers experienced a significant jump in musculoskeletal complaints following a change in their working environment. Compared with working in the office, homeworkers reported suffering a number of new aches and pains, especially in the neck (58%), shoulder (56%) and back (55%).


For many businesses, employees are the focal point of generating revenue. While they might not be physically situated in the office, businesses must recognise that their responsibility in ensuring the wellbeing and productivity of employees also extends to remote working, which is why these findings are clearly a cause for concern. If employees don’t have access to an appropriate desk, supportive chair, monitor or laptop positioned at the right level, then they are not just putting their physical wellbeing at


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Firstly, advise employees to incorporate movement into their day and to not stay sat at their desk all the time. Allowing the body to move frequently not only helps improve poor posture but can increase circulation and calorie-burn. A great way to do this is by taking short breaks to stretch arms and legs at regular intervals and getting away from the screen. This helps to relax eyes, wrists and bodies. Employers can additionally support their staff by providing a monitor mount to use at home, which employees can then position in their line of sight to reduce possibilities of eye and neck strain.


Secondly, organisations can provide employees with a sit-stand desk, or a converter which can be placed on top of an existing desk. This is an excellent method which allows employees to alternate between sitting and standing during their working day. This is a low- intensity ergonomic physical activity most employees would be able to engage in if they have lack of space in their homes to walk around. It not only adds variety to their day, but it can also improve their physical wellbeing and productivity. However, if employees are unable to access this type of desk, then encouraging employees to use books or boxes to create a makeshift version is a way to move the laptop into their line of sight and imitate the standing experience.


Thirdly, correct posture support is vital in reducing back pains, so providing employees with an ergonomic chair (or letting them borrow their one from the office) is crucial to ensure their back doesn’t slump by sitting on dining room chairs that don’t offer the right lumbar support. For those that need additional support, advising employees to sit on a firm cushion can also boost back posture as well as raise the wrists and arms in-line with the keyboard.


Overall, it’s important organisations take an active role in helping employees to use ergonomics to help improve their physical wellbeing when working remotely. Businesses can do a virtual training session with their employees to ensure they feel comfortable and understand how to work more productively.


www.ergotron.com/en-gb www.tomorrowshs.com


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