There’s been a lot of conversation about mental health since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Employers and healthcare plan providers have often stepped up, providing new assistance with options like mindfulness apps, or engaging in mental health check-ins with employees.
Now, the physical health ramifications of a rapid switch from ergonomic offices to cobbled-together home workstations are starting to show up. After nearly a year of working from home, workers are stiff, sore, and blinking at their screens.
It’s time to get out the word to your staff about building a sustainable and comfortable way to work from home. Here are three things to address, and how you can help employees make positive changes to their workspace.
Perfect Posture Matters
Without the right desk set-up, people who do the majority of work on their laptops are curling themselves into all sorts of positions. The classic hunched-shoulders, rounded-back approach, usually used by the sofa worker with a laptop perched on a coffee table, is responsible for some serious musculoskeletal pain.
The fix? Sitting upright, with hips and knees at a 90-degree angle, is best for any seated work. Sitting on a cushioned surface like a sofa or a bed is fine for a break from the desk, but as an everyday workstation, it’s a recipe for chronic body pain. In this case, a laptop definitely requires a chair with a back-rest. A firm back pillow can help keep the spine from sagging, as well.
Most important of all? Get up and walk. Changing position and stretching every hour makes a massive difference to the body.
Headaches, blurred vision, sore eyes: these are all symptoms of eye strain. Blue light glasses are selling like hotcakes these days, but a few simple fixes around the computer monitor can also ease the stress of squinting at a screen all day.
First, place monitors about an arm’s length away. This is a little easier with a separate monitor than a laptop. Secondly, keep the angle of the computer screen a little below horizontal eye level. And third, remember the 20-20-20 rule. Every twenty minutes, take a screen break. When you do, focus on an object that’s twenty feet away, for at least twenty seconds. Taking a regular walk away from the screen will also help.
Another potential issue for the eyes: blinking less. Looking at a screen tends to lessen the number of times a person blinks. This in turn leads to dry eyes—which can be exacerbated in winter by heating systems. Eye drops can provide relief for scratchy, prickly eyes.
When your employees rest their eyes and change their focus, they should see much better…and ease the chronic headaches that are plaguing so many home workers.
Remember wearing shoes to work? They actually did feet some good. A podiatrist in the Washington, D.C. area reports that foot issues are on the rise. His recommendation: “Do not go barefoot or in slippers (or flip flops) for the entirety of the day.” If your feet are used to support, going without can cause inflammation and pain in the heels and arches.
Home workers can help their feet by wearing supporting shoes for three to four hours per day, taking it easy when adding mileage to walking or running workouts, and using exercises like gripping a towel or rolled-up sock with the toes, then releasing it. Repeat ten times with each foot. If feet are already inflamed, a frozen water bottle rolled under the arch can provide relief.
Communicating to Employees
Keeping your employees healthy and happy as they continue to work from home is important. Adding some health tips to your regular communications can help, but you might also consider sending out dedicated emails or adding information to your internal website.
Looking for a better way to communicate with employees? WBD can help! Our HR solutions include tools like email and website banners. Take a look at what we do, then contact us to learn how WBD can improve your company’s Human Resources.