Remote working looks like it’s here to stay and as an employer, it’s easy to see the good points for your home team.
Not having to battle with traffic twice a day in rush hour, for a start. A leisurely morning routine is definitely a plus. So is gaining the commute time back, savings on petrol costs and wear and tear on the car.
Of course, there’s often obstacles to any situation that’s new. Left unchecked they can snowball into grievances that hinder productivity.
Many employees hurried home at the start of the lockdown with nothing but a laptop, eager to try out home working.
And, many will also have discovered that sitting at the kitchen table or on the sofa with a laptop, is not the best idea.
A recent article by The British Safety Council states that during the outbreak there was a significant increase in musculoskeletal complaints.
In fact, it goes on to say that over half of the survey respondents reported new aches and pains. These were centred in the neck (58 per cent) and back (55 per cent).
Furthermore, research carried out by Bupa UK found that 11 million people across the country are in pain due to using home office equipment.
But, it doesn’t have to be that way. There are millions of people across the world who have worked remotely as a way of life for years, without suffering aches and pains.
As someone who works at home and has worked at a desk for most of my working life, I know a thing or two about preventing aching muscles.
Read on to find out how to ease the pain of remote working for your employees.
A Shortcut to aching muscles
I admit I’ve tried sitting at the kitchen table with the laptop and believe me, it’s a shortcut to aching shoulders and neck.
The only reason I tried it was down to the hot weather in the summer. For the first half-hour, it seemed like a great idea. There was a gentle breeze coming in through the open kitchen door; this was al fresco working at its best.
Then, the first twinges started. I barely lasted a couple of hours before I had to abandon ship and head back to my home office.
So, more than a couple of weeks with this type of set-up and your employees will start to feel the effect, and not in a good way.
Replicate the office set-up
Most of your workers will normally have no musculoskeletal issues with their office workstation. So, if this is the case you need to help them replicate that set-up at home.
So, when they are next in the office, get a tape measure and take a few measurements. You’ll need the height of their desk and chair and also make a note of where the desk comes to on their body when they’re sitting at it.
They will then have a tailor-made blueprint of the best sitting position for them. Armed with these notes, they can compare them with their table and chairs at home.
Dining tables are generally higher than an office desk so your employees will need to use cushions to bring themselves to the right height. They should be aiming for their arms to be slightly higher than the desk-top and at right angles so they’re not stretching forward. Also, their back should be supported and their feet flat on the floor.
They may need to use cushions, a rolled-up towel for back support and a footrest or cushions on the floor for their feet.
Use a separate keyboard and mouse
Having a separate keyboard and mouse will make a huge difference to their overall comfort and productivity. Both items are inexpensive and can be plugged in for immediate use.
Once the sitting position has been adjusted, the laptop needs to be set at the right height, too. It’s never a good idea to have it sitting directly on the desk as your employees will need to angle their head down for long periods.
Instead, ask them to position the laptop so they’re looking straight ahead towards the top half of the screen. They can easily use books to stand the laptop on or a laptop riser if they have one.
Also, an adjustable recipe book stand works very well, as does a portable easel, if any of your employees are budding artists!
Moving and taking breaks
The human body and particularly the head and neck are not designed to stay in one position for hours on end.
So, taking breaks and moving regularly will help your employees prevent aching muscles.
These simple neck exercises from the NHS only take a few minutes to do and will help keep your employees flexible. They should aim to do them a couple of times a week.
Of course, if any of your employees are suffering from long-term neck and shoulder strain, they should visit their GP.
As well as specific exercises, your employees should also take short breaks throughout the day. Getting up and moving around will help to prevent both muscle and eye strain.
They may find it helpful to schedule breaks into their day using an online calendar such as Google. It would then allow them to activate the alarm so they are reminded to start another task or take a break.
Keeping in touch
With today’s technology, it’s easy to stay connected to your remote employees on a daily basis.
It’s recommended to prevent your remote team feeling ‘invisible.’ As well as this you can keep them in the loop about any events, meetings or important information.
Platforms such as Zoom for video calls has a free option that includes unlimited one-to-one meetings. You can also conduct group meetings of up to 40 minutes in the free version.
Slack is another communication platform focused on messaging but with many other useful features. It also has a free option for small teams.
Finally, you could create a WhatsApp group specifically for your team to keep them connected.
Have you produced remote working guidelines for your employees? It’s a sure way to let them know they have your full support when they’re at home.
I’m a professional copywriter working remotely and I can help you create remote working guidelines for your employees.
Book a 20-minute consult today and let’s talk about how to keep your remote employees happy and well.