Study: 51% of remote workers suffer work-related health problems

Dive Brief:

  • A new poll shows that 51% of people who work from home said they suffer from work-related injuries, including aches and pains, neck and back problems and sustained injuries. Work-at-home employees are 10% more likely than office workers to suffer from such health problems, WorldatWork says.
  • The poll by Bupa UK, a Great Britain-based international health-care group, showed that 25% of remote workers lack a dedicated work area in their homes, 50% said they worked hunched over and 40% admitted that they regularly worked from bed or the sofa. WorldatWork says these work patterns increase the risk of musculoskeletal injury, the most common problems being backaches (24%) and neck aches (20%). 
  • The poll also found that 47% of workers work longer hours at home than in the office and often longer than the time stated in their contract. Bupa researchers said that, over time, these work habits increase fatigue and stress levels. Researchers concluded that not having the proper workspace setup at home might be the cause of remote workers’ health problems.

Dive Insight:

Organizations often have the expertise of professional designers to configure ergonomic seating, proper lighting and other amenities for a productive work environment. Employees seldom have access to this kind of expertise or the finances required to set up a home office — or know why it matters to have a separate workspace.

The key to success in engaging remote workers is meeting them where they are; both in terms of their employment and their actual, physical accessibility. That means utilizing appropriate communication forms (i.e. mobile and video chat), but it also means empowering the ability of managers to assist with wellness engagement. If managers are made aware of the benefits options available to remote workers, they’ll be able to point those workers in the right direction, whenever the need for preventative care, biometric screenings or other methods arises

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However, 38% of workers polled said their employers ensured that they had a suitable workspace at home. More employers with remote workers should do the same.