There’s a much higher percentage of us working from home right now: this has been the case since mid to end March and, based on the latest announcements from the PM and Government, for those who can do their jobs remotely, it will continue for some time.
Many of us don’t have a desk at home and find ourselves working hunched over dining tables or coffee tables, sitting on sofas, at dining chairs or on kitchen stools…all of which is going to, at some time, cause us a level of pain in the head, neck, back and shoulder areas. Is working from home a pain in the neck for you?
What duties do you have as an employer to your homeworkers?
As employers, it’s important to recognise that there is a continued responsibility for the wellbeing of your people, even when they are working from home.
Under the Health and Safety at Work Act, you still have an obligation to make sure that staff are working safely and in ways that do not put their health at risk. However, there are also responsibilities on the part of an employee.
As an employer, you should be thinking about the following:
- How will you keep in touch with your team members?
- What work activity will they be doing and for how long?
- Do they have the equipment and resources they need to complete the work?
- Can the work be done safely?
- Do you need to put any control measures in place to protect them?
What can I do to support my homeworkers?
Many larger organisations delivered office equipment, such as chairs, monitors etc to employees’ homes at the beginning of lockdown or have started to in the last few weeks as it has become more apparent that homeworking may be for a longer period.
We know that not everyone has the resources to deliver equipment etc but there are some practical steps employers can take.
Here are a few examples:
- carrying out electronic risk assessments (see the HSE link above)
- share some homeworking guidelines with your employees. They could cover advice on how often to get up and stretch, taking regular breaks, how they can be aware of their posture when they are working, avoiding eye fatigue by changing focus or blinking from time to time, making sure they manage their working hours well and how and where they can access free exercise and workout ideas
What impact is it having on homeworkers right now?
An ongoing IES study of 500 homeworkers released some interim findings in April, unsurprisingly, workers reported an increased in physical complaints. More than half of the respondents reported new aches and pains associated with bad posture, including in their necks (58%), shoulders (56%) and backs (55%).
I have no doubt that these will have been exacerbated by the high levels of stress and anxiety that most are feeling at the moment, many juggling caring for others and home-schooling.
What can we all do to improve our posture and ease homeworking-related pains?
We are not specialists in this area but do feel passionate about supporting employers and employees alike, so we have teamed up with our local pilates teacher Amanda to give you ten top tips to improving your posture and easing your homeworking-related aches and pains. If working from home is a pain in the neck for you, watch the below video for more information!