Despite enjoying new-found freedom and flexibility, workers are feeling anxious, isolated and uncomfortable while working from home during the pandemic, according to a recent study - and their employers may be to blame.
Our global partner Fellowes Brands commissioned a study involving 1,000 UK office workers who have been working from home for the last four months due to COVID-19. They wanted to know how people have been dealing with the sudden change in environment and routine. Are employers sending staff the equipment they need to set up ergonomically? Are they feeling happy, comfortable and productive as they navigate this shift towards a 'new norm'?
Shockingly, less than half (49%) said they have a suitable home workstation.
What's worse is that without a desk to sit at, some people are resorting to using their laptop on the sofa (10%), in bed (5%) and even on the floor (3%).
Using a laptop without adequate support for long periods of time can lead to pain and long-term injuries in the back, neck, shoulders, fingers and arms. Nearly half (49%) of those surveyed said they experienced more physical strain working from home than when they were in the office, including:
- strained eyes (27%)
- stiff neck (27%)
- a sore or aching back (26%)
- headaches (25%)
To avoid aches and pains, you should try to find a way to improve your positioning, even if you have to improvise with boxes, books and cushions. Of course, improvisations should only have to be a temporary measure until you can get hold of the necessary equipment.
But how do you get hold of the necessary equipment?
If you are fully employed and spend most of your time at a computer, your employer is responsible for making sure you have suitable equipment to carry out your job - although current legislation around homeworking is outdated and lacks clarity.
Unfortunately the Fellowes survey reveals that employees are resorting to spending their own money on home working equipment (65%), spending an average of £1,300 to achieve the comfortable, productive workspace they want.
Should employers be doing more?
Almost 1 in 5 (19%) of those surveyed think their employer does not care about their mental health or wellbeing, sacrificing their personal welfare in favour of profit and reaching targets.
Nearly half (45%) have never completed a workstation risk assessment – putting them at greater risk of developing musculoskeletal issues from unsuitable positioning, postures and habits. A significant 58% don’t know or don’t fully understand what their rights are when it comes to having a safe and healthy home working environment, while 59% believe home working should be regulated by the government.
Kizzy Augustin, Health & Safety Partner at Russell Cooke Solicitors, says: “Employers have the same health and safety responsibilities for home workers as for any other workers. The coronavirus pandemic has meant more people are now working from home - a trend we are likely to see continue. This means an increase in flexible or hybrid working between office and home, so employers, need to take responsibility, be proactive and work collaboratively, to continually review and adapt working practices for their employees
Here are some of the key findings: