I just read an excellent Inc.com article about how to keep employees healthy while they are working remotely. Thank you, Assistant Editor Sophie Downes, for reminding us that it was only a matter of time before months of extended laptop use – combined with the stress of living through a pandemic – started to take a toll on our health.
According to a survey commissioned by Chubb, 41 percent of Americans have had new or increased back, neck, or shoulder pain since they began working from home. And Hinge Health reports that 45 percent of remote workers reported back and joint pain, with 71 percent saying the pain was new or had worsened.
How can you help employees?
- Communicate frequent reminders, such as: An unsupportive chair can contribute to back pain, place the top of the computer screen at eye level, use a separate keyboard and mouse at elbow level, sit with feet planted on the floor, and change positions throughout the day.
- Revise remote-work policies to include ergonomics. Provide companywide training sessions, as well as resources like self-assessment checklists or even one-on-one virtual appointments with an ergonomist, to help employees set up proper workstations and learn healthy habits.
- Offer to foot the bill. Fund some home-office updates, especially if you’re thinking of keeping your business remote indefinitely.
- Don’t ignore mental strain. People who live alone or with only a partner tend to feel more overworked and isolated, and were inclined toward unhealthy behaviors like drinking too much. In addition, there’s a lot of negativity going on in our world. Make sure your benefits plan supports mental health options.
- Invite people to tell you what they need. Conduct focus groups and ask employees what you can do as an employer to make remote working more balanced and palatable.
JILL, WHAT CAN I DO? These five ideas are an excellent way to show employees that you care about them and potentially reduce your organization’s long-term healthcare expenses. Working from home full-time is new for many people, so to the extent you can help people make the adjustment, they will remain focused, engaged, and healthy. A win-win for both your employees and your organization.