Working from Home; Reflections on Work from Home Ergonomics

Updated: Jun 28

At the onset of Covid distancing, I had the opportunity to do Work from Home Ergonomic Consults with 50 individuals. The intent was to provide education to support them in creating work spaces and habits to prevent the risk of musculoskeletal injury.


Afterward, I conducted a survey. 39 people completed the survey. Here's what I learned.


Equipment

Of the 36 employees (3 identified as self-employed) who responded, 6 reported being provided with an ergonomic chair for use at home.

Most were using kitchen chairs, etc.


Of those who reported being provided with a laptop, 37% had not been provided with a keyboard and mouse.

Use of a laptop without keyboard/mouse necessitates awkward postures - forward flexion of neck, back and rounding of shoulders


36% of people felt they did not have the equipment to support a long-term work from home situation.


Education

39% of people reported having previously received education on ergonomic best practices from their employer.


19% reported being provided with some instruction/education upon transitioning to work from home on setting up a suitable workspace.


Symptoms

42% of people reported that they had been experiencing physical symptoms associated with work BEFORE transitioning to work from home.


Of those with symptoms before, 53% reported a worsening of symptoms when they started to work from home.


58% of people reported NEW symptoms upon starting to work from home.


In all, 79% of respondents were experiencing symptoms at the time of the consult.

  • 81% had neck pain

  • 65% had back pain

  • 77% had shoulder pain

  • 32% had wrist pain

89% of those with symptoms reported an improvement of their symptoms as a result of the ergonomic consult.


Recommendations

Posed with the question; 'In your opinion, what would be the ideal level of support provided by employers to employees working from home? and given the options of;

  • An individual ergonomic consult should be provided

  • Educational materials should be provided with an option for additional support

  • Educational materials alone should be provided

  • No support needed

62% felt that an individual ergonomic consult should be provided

36% felt that educational material should be provided with an option for additional support

2% felt that educational materials alone should be provided


TAKE AWAYS

Though I am, of course, always hopeful that I can help people to alleviate their symptoms (and reduce the risk of developing symptoms) I was surprised to see just how many reported improvement. This was largely due to education and work habits only, as no-one was in a position to be making significant investment for what was possibly a temporary situation.


One must consider what the outcome may have been for those people had they not had any education/intervention.


It is also interesting to see how many people were experiencing symptoms related to their work. Admittedly, it may simply be that it was those with symptoms who decided to reach out for this consult, but I do think that many experience symptoms and think 'that's just how it is'.


That shouldn't be how it is. Work shouldn't hurt. It doesn't have to. People just need the knowledge of how to work best.


If I can help you or your staff with creating a safe and comfortable work from home workspace please contact me at carrie@balanceergo.com





















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