With the onset of the pandemic, home office became the new way of work. At first, many were excited at the prospect of working from home – at long last you could nestle on this comfy sofa of yours or even wrap yourself in the sheets in your bed – and work from your dream workstation at home. However, soon enough workers started to struggle with their bodies when working remotely. And guess what? The home office is to blame. Why?
Remote work has a trifecta of factors such as prolonged sitting and the subsequent reduced physical activity, and increased screen time, that altogether lead to what’s known as “work-from-home bod”. What does this exactly entail? Bloodshot eyes due to long hours of staring at the screen, pale skin due to lack of time outside, and as a consequence – low levels of vitamin D, obesity from reduced physical activity, and poor posture.
Although working in the office does have a sitting problem, people are still more likely to move around than if they were working from home. Working in the office means that employees have ample opportunities to get up from their seat and move around to socialise with their colleagues, have a coffee break, water the plants, collect printouts and so on. These opportunities have been practically erased once we switched to working from home.
Prolonged sitting itself can lead to multiple health complications such as poor posture (scoliosis, anyone?), tech neck (strained muscles in the neck, back and shoulders from leaning forward to look at the screen, that can cause migraines), stiff and weak muscles, poor heart health, and increased risks of diabetes, as well as constipation.
At the same time, strain your eyes at the computer for too long and you could get headaches and insomnia. The latter issue occurs as a result of excessive blue light that devices such as smartphones, tablets, and computer screens emanate. Chronic overexposure to blue light disrupts your natural circadian cycle (that regulates your natural wake and sleeping times), leading to problems with sleep. Given that due to the pandemic, most of us do all our activities on screens – from Zoom meetings to Netflix hang out parties – it is no surprise that workers report poor sleep as one of the major disadvantages of working from home.
As such complaints keep piling up, companies should work to ensure that they provide the right conditions for their employees when the latter work from home. For now, it is up to employees themselves to organise their work stations at home to minimise the risks of musculoskeletal injuries and reduce other body problems associated with remote work. You can vastly improve your physical wellbeing when working from home by setting up your workstation in an ergonomic way – for instance, the screen should be positioned in such a way so that its top is on the same level as your eyes. You should also not hesitate to visit a professional to help you out with for example back or neck issues. For instance, there have never been so many people who go to Fysioterapi i Stavanger in Norway than now. Most likely because of the home office trend. Lastly be sure to take microbreaks every 10 minutes and do some stretches to release any muscle tension.