Undoubtedly, the pandemic has brought a major shift in the way we work. And even though the pandemic is gradually receding, there’s no denying that remote work will continue to be the norm for many companies in the future. The shift to more flexible working offered a lot of advantages: employees are more motivated and productive, while employers enjoy the cost savings. However, it’s not all positive news—remote work also has its risks. In this post, I’ll provide some statistics and findings to show you how home working is impacting remote workers’ well-being and why you should leverage these statistics.
Two years ago, the stay-at-home and lockdown orders forced many workers out of a traditional office setup and into a remote or flexible workspace. While some companies were quick to respond, many employers have struggled to transition to the WFH model. This resulted in a number of negative consequences. Among other challenges, remote workers:
While employees can have access to ergonomic equipment like chairs with lots of support, sit-stand desks, and things of that sort in a traditional office, many remote workers didn’t have suitable equipment, especially in the pandemic’s early days. Since the shift to home working was literally overnight, people worked in poor conditions in makeshift workspaces. Hinge Health’s study found that:
Aside from the lack of suitable workspaces, the second big challenge for remote workers is the lack of physical activity and movement. In the office, employees have a variety of ways to counter inactivity, such as stepping out on lunch breaks, getting up to talk to colleagues, or walking between meeting rooms. In the same Hinge Health study, it was reported that 35% say they aren’t moving enough. Due to the absence of commuting to work and sitting in endless Zoom meetings, remote workers spend longer hours at their desks—occasionally walking to and fro from the kitchen to their desk to fetch food.
Working in makeshift offices, poor posture, and sitting for prolonged periods of time have all contributed to an uptick in pain and discomfort. In a survey done by Chubb in May and June 2020, it was revealed that 41% of Americans reported feeling new or increased shoulder, back, and wrist pain since they started working from home. The latest estimates from the Labour Force Survey (LFS) also indicated that the total number of cases of work-related musculoskeletal disorders in 2020/21 was 470,000.
Leaning forward, sitting hunched over the keyboards, and looking at the monitor at less-than-ideal angles—these positions leave the back unsupported. And since people are getting their work done on their kitchen counters and dining tables—which are usually too high—it’s not surprising that there’s an increase in back-related injuries, as well as shoulder sprains and strains.
Work from home has also resulted in an increase in wrist pain like carpal tunnel syndrome. Substandard home workstation setups usually don’t cover provisions for wrist support. Remote employees working in front of their laptops may be resting their wrists against the edges of dining tables or countertops, which puts strain on them.
Another common WFH injury that increased during the pandemic is eye strain. When working from home, people don’t really have a scheduled time away from their computers, so it’s easier to sit in front of the screen for hours. Looking at a smaller screen, such as a laptop monitor, and inadequate lighting also adds to the problem.
Still, one of the long-term legacies of the pandemic is the adoption of more flexible work arrangements, including giving them the option to work from home more frequently. Based on an Upwork survey, 22% of the American workforce will be remote by 2025. But employers aren’t the only ones who expect remote working to continue. More than half (54%) of American employees said they want to continue working from home even post-pandemic, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.
Unless employers quickly take action to protect their employees’ health and safety, we’ll see an increase in workers' compensation claims this year. In a perfect world, employers would never have to deal with workers’ comp claims. While that won’t happen anytime soon, there are some actions they can do to mitigate the risk of WFH-related injuries. Employers need to understand that there’s a significant change in the location of workplace safety risks, and ergonomics solutions should be put in place, or else they would've to face costly workers’ compensation claims in the future.
So with remote work here to stay, what does this mean for your business?
I hope you can see the importance of what we do as Ergonomics Consultants from this post. The statistics above tell us that remote employees need virtual ergonomic assessments more than ever before. In this era of flexible work, we can help employees work safely from home and enjoy the benefits of flexible working without the added risk of pain and discomfort. By making sure that employees have safe working environments at home, we’re also helping employers reduce the risk of workers’ comp claims and enhance employee retention. There are a lot of opportunities here to provide ergonomic services. So it’s a win-win for everyone.
Understanding your prospects' needs, wants, and desires give you an idea of what types of messaging you need to get their attention. One of the effective ways you can make your messaging more relatable is by integrating statistics into your marketing. The statistics I shared above highlight the need that employers have about ergonomics today. You can incorporate those statistics when promoting your services to employers as a way to encourage them to take action. Knowing these statistics and leveraging their opportunities is truly valuable. It just boils down to how we position our services.
And that’s it! If you want to learn how to market your ergonomic services effectively, get in front of your ideal client, and generate more revenue for your business, then look no further than the Accelerate program. Accelerate gives you all the tools and resources you need to get the long-term clients that you dreamed of. I’ll be opening enrollment for the Accelerate membership at the end of June 2022. To sign up for the waitlist, just head to this link.
Hinge Health. Survey Report: New Health Risks of the Remote Workplace, https://assets.ctfassets.net/cad7d5zna5rn/pcnll44IRi9Lj7epdl2S8/b9da9c1995485f2677d50a46b6e97504/Hinge_Health_WFH_Health_Risks_Report.pdf
HSE, Work-related musculoskeletal disorders statistics in Great Britain, 2021, https://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/causdis/msd.pdf
Upwork, Upwork Study Finds 22% of American Workforce Will Be Remote by 2025, https://www.upwork.com/press/releases/upwork-study-finds-22-of-american-workforce-will-be-remote-by-2025
Parker, J. Horowitz, R. Minkin, How the Coronavirus Outbreak Has – and Hasn’t – Changed the Way Americans Work, https://www.pewresearch.org/social-trends/2020/12/09/how-the-coronavirus-outbreak-has-and-hasnt-changed-the-way-americans-work/
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