remote ergonomics Feb 17, 2022

Due to the pandemic, the world has seen an explosion in the number of people working from home. Two years after the monumental shift to remote work, many employers still offer the option to work from home, while others have implemented full-time permanent WFH policies. The flexibility and comfortability offered by WFH arrangements are great. Well, until you start to feel the physical effects of an informal work environment, that is. Experts say that remote workers are susceptible to a particular kind of injury and pain: repetitive strain injury (RSI).

February 28th marks the International Repetitive Strain Injury Awareness Day, which is dedicated to RSI education and prevention. And it’s the perfect promotion for you to leverage to get in front of your ideal clients. In this post, I’ll be sharing WFH statistics and injury rates and the importance of using these statistics to the benefit of improving and promoting our services. Let’s dig in!

Increased ergonomic risk factors at home

Companies like Twitter and Salesforce have stated their plans to let employees work remotely on a permanent basis. KPMG also reported that nearly 70% of all large-company CEOs were planning to downsize their office space. Many companies today most likely have a hybrid approach, incorporating a mix of in-office and remote work. But while many employers take great steps to protect employees working in the office, do they prioritize how employees are working from home?

Here’s what the statistics say:

  • According to a survey, out of 856 people working remotely, 40% of them aren't even working from a dedicated desk; 
  • about 20% of people are working from the living room;
  • 30% of people reported working from their own bedroom;
  • 15% of those surveyed were working at their dining table and 11% were working on their couch;
  • 60% were unable to bring equipment from the employer;
  • and employees reported spending an average of $194 on supplies specifically related to remote work.

Although a home is a comfortable space, it’s mainly designed to be lived in. Not all people have a designated home office space that can provide their office needs, including having a properly adjusted workstation, appropriate ergonomic equipment, and sufficient ambient lighting. As a result, many people work in makeshift home offices that aren’t beneficial for their long-term health. Remote workers working in makeshift workstations can develop several kinds of conditions. One example is low back pain, which is very common among sedentary workers, and the other ones are neck and shoulder pain, as well as cramps in the hands and wrists. 

Since many workers did not have access to ergonomically designed chairs and adjustable monitors and desks for their WFM setups, this resulted in an increase in musculoskeletal disorders or repetitive strain injuries (RSIs).

  • 92% of chiropractors (out of 213 respondents) reported that patients report more neck pain, back pain, and other musculoskeletal issues since the stay-at-home guidance started, according to an April Facebook survey from the American Chiropractic Association.
  • 41% of Americans have had new or increased back, neck, and shoulder pain since they started working remotely, based on a survey commissioned by the insurance company Chubb in May and June 2020.

What causes RSI?

Repetitive Strain Injury is a category of injuries involving damages to muscles, nerves, and tendons caused by repetitive movement and overuse or misuse. One significant cause of RSIs is frequent computer use. This is due to the repetitive motion of typing on a keyboard for a prolonged period of time, combined with sitting in an awkward position, unsupported arms or back, and lack of breaks. So it’s not surprising that RSIs are a common issue for those who work in a fixed or static position, such as desk jobs.

With jobs that involve sitting in front of a computer switching to remote work during the pandemic, a number of remote workers developed repetitive motion injuries. In fact, The Atlantic reported up to 89% increase in musculoskeletal disorders, where carpal tunnel syndrome is the leading disorder.

Here are some facts about RSI from Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) Ontario that you should know:

  • #1 type of lost-time claims
  • 42% of all lost-time claims
  • 50% of all lost-time days
  • Costs hundreds of millions of dollars per year due to absenteeism and lost productivity.

Leverage RSI Day

Employers are still responsible for the injuries their workers sustain while working from home, so it’s vital that ergonomic risks at home setups are managed appropriately to ensure the safety of the workers. Ignoring this responsibility could lead to a workers' compensation claim being filed by the employee. Additionally, if employers fail to address this issue, it will impact their company’s bottom line. We all know that remote work isn’t going away anytime soon, so employers should provide their workers with the right ergonomic equipment and assess potential risks with their WFH setups. 

The International RSI Day is an ideal time for you to raise awareness about RSI and other conditions and encourage employers to make preventive efforts. You can use this event as your starting point in promoting your services by making them aware of the actions that they need to take to avoid the long-term costs of RSI. There are a lot of opportunities for Ergonomic Professionals everywhere. You just have to go out of your comfort zone and reach out to your prospects.

And that’s it! I hope you gain some value from this blog. Want to learn how to get in front of the prospects that desire your services, maintain a steady stream of work, and generate more revenue for your business? Let me introduce you to Accelerate: The Business of Ergonomics program, where I show you how to get the long-term clients that you dreamed of. Just click here to join the waitlist and be the first to know when enrollment opens again! 

Also, if you're struggling with pricing your ergonomic services, then you should definitely check out this training. Whether you’re a side-hustler or an independent contractor, you’ll gain so much insight on how to confidently price your services. 

References and Related Resources:

1. Hinge health. Survey Report: New Health Risks of the Remote Workplace

2. Nulab, Adjusting to remote work, work/

3. PRSI Break, Occupational Safety and Health Professionals,

4. Amanda Mull, The Atlantic, Yes, the Pandemic Is Ruining Your Body,


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