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Working From Home

Toby Dec 22, 2021

Before the pandemic of COVID-19 that started in March 2020, home working was becoming more and more popular. However, since the first lockdown the number of people now working from home has grown dramatically and for many office workers, this is now their preferred method of working.

We are in very strange times and we are being told that we have a duty to keep ourselves and those around us safe through mask wearing, vaccinations and social distancing. But this is now creating a hidden pandemic of home workers. These are people who are not considering the potential harm to their body that spending so much time at home is causing.

Working from home used to be viewed as people who were taking it easy or were not serious about working. But, that perception has changed as we have been forced into it. Still, the majority of people who are working at home do not have a proper set up. They are able to spend more time in the house and less time at the office, but this is often at the cost of their own body.

In the office, you might have had a fixed computer with a large screen or even multiple screens, but now you find yourself hunched over a small laptop with the screen a fraction of the size that it was. You might have had to start working on your kitchen table and sitting on a kitchen chair, whereas before you had a desk that was at the right height and a chair that you could adjust. You might now be sitting on your sofa or even your bed as you don’t have anywhere else to work, especially if there are multiple people working from home in the same house. Whatever the case, the majority of homes are just not set up for working (and why would they be, they are our homes!)

6.9 million working days are lost each and every year in the UK due to joint and muscle disorders. Any person who works and has a musculoskeletal problem is less productive and can cost their company up to 10 times more in employee absenteeism. And due to the repeated lockdowns that we are seeing, with people being encouraged to work at home wherever possible, this number is on the rise.

So, as somebody who is working from home, what can you do to stay fit and healthy?

  • If the majority of your day is spent sitting down, then try to stand up and stretch. This will help to keep your spine flexible. Being hunched over in the same position for a long time causes your back to bend in ways it is not supposed to and you then get back ache. Walking away from your screen for a few moments at frequent intervals will help you with this and it will also mean that when you come back to your desk you will be more productive. Try having some meetings or phone calls standing up.
  • Discipline yourself – ensure that you have clearly defined start and finish times to ensure that you are giving yourself the right amount of time to recover.
  • Don’t work on your sofa or bed, or lying down. It may not be possible otherwise in some cases, but this is the fastest way to get back pain.
  • Seeing a physiotherapist can help address any underlying physical issues you may have with your body. They can also show you some exercises that will ensure that your spine and back retain their flexibility and this can usually ward off any onset of pain.
  • Seek help! Lockdown has made a lot of people much more isolated, and as a result, they may have put on weight, become anxious or depressed and started to ignore pain that was small at the outset but is now becoming chronic. When you are depressed, the pain feels worse and usually lasts for longer.

Working from home is something that more of us are doing and until the global pandemic is under control, it will continue. We have a duty to look after ourselves and to make sure that we are healthy, not only by steering clear of the pandemic, but also by keeping our bodies fit and well.

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