More than a quarter of people who responded to a recent TechRadar Pro and SmartBrief survey reported they had experienced physical pain, such as neck or back pain, due to working from home during the pandemic.
In the survey of 1,200 US-based professionals, 90% of respondents said they had worked from home during lockdown, with 87% rating remote working comfort as either “important” or “very important”. Less than 3% said that comfort was “not important” when working remotely.
As many office employees will know, back and neck pain are common symptoms of working at a desk and can be alleviated by correct positioning of a monitor, sitting so that feet are flat on the ground, and by sitting in a good quality chair, which supports the natural shape of the back.
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Home office-equipment shopping spree
Perhaps as a way to make home offices more comfortable and productive, nearly two-thirds of respondents said they’d purchased office equipment during the lockdown, with less than a third of respondents (29%) saying they still planned to purchase office-related equipment.
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The shift to a more flexible working workplace then appears to be a double-edged sword – benefiting employers and staff but also creating new issues that need to be resolved. But with many companies now insisting workers do work at least some days per week from home, the question is: who is responsible for workers’ health - and indeed equipment costs - when they are not on work premises?
According to Worksmart, the employer is responsible for, “...the protection of the occupational health and safety of staff who work from home as well as office-based workers. This duty cannot be delegated to the worker, even though your employer is not in your home and cannot control what goes on there.”
Not only that, but the employer must carry out a risk assessment, and its duty extends to its employees’ “...mental health, including the risks of isolation, overwork, or failure to take proper breaks,” concludes Worksmart.
In the US, employers must have compliance with labor laws and consider the state laws of where the remote person works from, along with the broader Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
That said, employees do share the burden in ensuring their own health and safety and are required to ensure their working environment is safe.
It's a complicated issue, which we've explore further in this article: Remote working and health and safety.