The beginning of the work-from-home era is a dream come true for most employees. No more crowds, traffic, and awkward in-person interactions with our bosses. Working at home is a perfect setting for employees who want to wear their sweatpants at work and sit beside their pets all day.
While remote work has given companies an alternative to resume work amid a pandemic, it also poses challenges for workers who never tried this new work arrangement before. There are also the extroverts who never felt more socially isolated without their coworkers around.
Physical and mental health issues were also widespread among remote employees. People are turning to wellness workers and back specialists for pain treatments related to burnout, work fatigue, and body pains. In fact, a study about the home working population during COVID-19 reveals 41.2% of remote workers are suffering from lower back pain while 23.5% have neck pain.
Although remote working has been a critical step in preventing the spread of the virus, it also comes with a few challenges that can put serious harm to our overall health. That said, health experts are seeing an increase in work-related injuries unique to the remote working environment.
Even before the pandemic, eye strain has been a common complaint among employees who spend long hours in front of computer screens. Daily exposure to color frequencies and a wide range of light leads to eye strain symptoms, such as headaches, blurred vision, light sensitivity, and itching, burning, or drying eyes.
Eye experts share that sustained focus on computer and smartphone screens is the primary cause remote workers suffer from severe eye strain. Another cause is the ‘blue light’ emitted by screens that lead to disrupted vision, causing the eyes to work harder. Forcing our eyes to focus on the screen for long periods will force the eye muscles to contract, making it difficult for us to function normally.
Wearing computer glasses or disposable contact lenses serve as eye protection to the computer screen. A great tip is to buy glasses that filter the blue light to work comfortably. You should also buy eye drops to keep the eyes lubricated and prevent dry eyes. Lastly, don’t forget to tear your eyes away from the screen every 20 minutes.
The sudden shift to work-from-home setup got everyone scrambling to create makeshift offices in their homes. Sadly, not everyone has a spacious home or a dedicated room for a home office, so people have to make do with their current resources. Many began setting up home offices in the living room, bedroom, attic, or any part of the house where they can work peacefully.
Having a chair and a table for your laptop is not enough for a home office, office furniture should allow plenty of movements, promote good posture, and ensure a comfortable seating position.
A dedicated home office is very important if you’ll be working from home for a long while. Otherwise, a faulty desk or an unsupportive chair can lead to musculoskeletal issues, such as chronic back and joint pain. According to a survey report by Hinge Health, 45% of employees working at home are experiencing back and joint pain, while 71% are experiencing new pain or have gotten worse ever since working from home.
Experts recommend investing in ergonomic chairs or any office furniture with ergonomic features. Ergonomic furniture promotes a good sitting posture and proper alignment of the shoulders, spine, and hips. It also reduces abnormal body strains and prevents inconvenient positions, such as forward head and back slouching.
Mental health issues
Working from home has resulted in new mental health issues among employees. Restrictions on social life left many people to feel despondent and isolated, and remote workers are no exception. The sudden shift to a work-from-home setup was particularly stressful for most employees. Thus, it’s not surprising why mental health professionals are seeing a recent increase in workplace stress, burnout, anxiety, and depression.
The lack of work structure and the absence of human contact are also the main causes of mental health challenges. Since more companies are making remote work permanent, business leaders and managers should be proactive in addressing issues related to mental health to enhance employees’ health. This will not only benefit the employees themselves but also the productivity and performance of the company.
The effects of COVID-19 have taken their toll in the traditional workplace, leading to the rise of physical and mental health concerns. With new work arrangements, employees have to establish a new routine and structure to help them cope in the current situation. In turn, employers should also be proactive in preserving the employees’ health and promote a productive workforce.