Working from home has become the new normal
‘Working from home’ has become the new normal for millions of people – protecting ourselves and others from COVID-19 – and it’s important for those who do to remember that apart from the change of premises, it should be business as usual. This isn’t just about employers keeping an eye on their staff and cracking the whip to keep them motivated; it’s as much about the overall well-being of personnel as they try to keep their jobs going with as little disruption as possible. Aside from the usual suspects that come with working without supervision – it’s not a holiday, after all – there are elements that essentially must follow the same rules as those you’d have at work.
The home office environment should effectively mirror the actual one, if not in terms of hardware but certainly in working conditions: it is the employer’s responsibility to ensure their staff work in a healthy and safe environment, which includes protecting them from various risks such as back pain.
It’s easy enough to fall into the habit of laptop-on-the-couch working, but that’s a bad idea. Inadequate seating, especially for long periods, has been proven to lead to all kinds of conditions – muscle and ligament strains, particularly around the neck, back and shoulders, for example. At the least, these aches and pains will impact on the worker’s ability to work; at the worst they can lead to being unable to do the job altogether. Indeed, back pain is the second most common cause of absence from work.
The British Chiropractic Association recommends a common-sense approach to minimising the risk of back pain, such as taking regular breaks from the computer, staying active, and ensuring that the working day is spent in comfort. That means that the desk, the chair, their height, and the distance from face to screen should all be as ergonomic as possible.
Nevertheless, back pain can come at any time, without warning, for a variety of reasons such as sleeping position, general walking posture, etc. The earlier it is dealt with, the better. Professional help – such as a chiropractor – should be sought as quickly as possible to keep you moving and able, as well as helping you to get into good posture habits that will guard against potentially crippling back problems.
Dr Gary Blackwood
White Tree Chiropractic