With more employees working at home, it may be a good time to look at HOW they are working from home. Do they feel tired, less creative or less productive? Even with companies setting up work from home software to check the productivity of their employees, are employees actually able to be productive? Doing a self-ergonomic assessment of their work area is a good first step in finding a fix.
Whether working at home, in the office or any other setting, awkward posture and repetitive movements can put stress and strain on the body. This can lead to fatigue and lower performance. And over time, it can turn into muscle strain, soreness or pain in the neck, back, shoulders or knees. Catching and stopping these aches early before they become a nuisance or worse is key.
Research reported in the American Journal of Epidemiology  shows that sitting for much of the day increases the risk for serious health concerns such as diabetes, heart disease and some cancers. Moving around more can help build physical resilience and improve glucose levels and insulin sensitivity, blood pressure, fatigue levels and musculoskeletal discomfort.
Tips to share with your team
Sharing ways to make simple ergonomic changes and add movement can significantly reduce physical stress and create a safer and more comfortable, enjoyable workspace.
Jennifer Seidl, physical therapist and executive director for rehabilitation services at Advocate Aurora Health, offers these tips to share with your team to help them feel and do their best.
To ensure an ergonomically friendly workspace:
- Evaluate your workspace for:
- Appropriate chair selection and fitting
- Organization for efficiency and reduced upper body strait
- Tip: Keep items you use often closer to you
- Improved lighting to reduce eyestrain and neck pain
- Proper keyboard, monitor, mouse and phone placement
- Use this Computer Workstation eTool from the U.S. Department of Labor.
- For a quick check, follow this guide:
To get more movement into the day:
- Break up long periods of sitting by incorporating short but frequent periods of stretching or light intensity movement. Two to five minutes every 20 to 30 minutes is a good routine to follow.
- Set a timer to remind you to get up and move.
- Add steps to your day:
- Take a short walk or go up and down the stairs.
- When on the phone or in a virtual meeting, stand up or march in place (off camera, of course).
- Use the bathroom that’s farthest away or on another floor.
Learn about cost-effective solutions to keep your workforce healthy while controlling benefit costs by visiting Advocate Aurora’s Employer Solutions. Solutions customized to your company’s culture could include health plan, employer clinic, EAP, wellness, occupational health and executive health programs.
Advocate Aurora Health is one of the 10 largest not-for-profit, integrated health systems in the United States and a leading Midwest employer with more than 70,000 employees and the region’s largest employed medical staff and home health organization. The system serves nearly 3 million patients annually in Illinois and Wisconsin.
 Patel, Alpa et al (2018, June 26). American Journal of Epidemiology: Prolonged Leisure Time Spent Sitting in Relation to Cause-Specific Mortality in a Large US Cohort. https://academic.oup.com/aje/article/187/10/2151/5045572