All around the world, more and more organizations are embracing remote work. While most employers weren’t prepared for their entire workforce to work from home, rapid technological innovations made it possible, and it seems to be working well for many organizations.
It’s estimated that 22% of the workforce (36.2 million Americans) will work remotely by 2025. This significant shift in the workforce presents HR professionals with unique challenges in supporting their remote employees. One of those challenges is ensuring a safe working environment at home.
Ensuring employees have an adequately equipped workspace is an important way to keep employees safe, healthy and productive. By contrast, a poorly equipped and designed workspace can lead to accidents and injuries. These best practices can help you and your employees create a safe and healthy work environment at home.
ADOPT HEALTHY WORK PRACTICES
Healthy work practices and habits are also vital to supporting wellbeing for remote workers. Consider offering ergonomic training and share these practices to help avoid injuries on the job. Here are a few tips to integrate into training for employees:
- Maintain good posture. Sitting hunched over or straining your arms and wrists to reach your keyboard or mouse can lead to injuries. The ideal sitting position includes a straightened back, square shoulders and feet resting flat on the floor.
- Switch between sitting and standing. Sitting all day long can contribute to serious health issues such as diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure. At the same time, standing all day can lead to back pain, joint damage and muscle fatigue. Try to alternate your working position between sitting and standing throughout your workday.
- Add movement and stretch. This can refresh muscles while also preventing repetitive motion injuries. Make it a goal to move at least once every hour. Consider breaking up your day with a quick workout or by taking a walk outside.
CREATE AN ERGONOMIC WORKSPACE
When you hear the word ergonomic, you may think of expensive computer chairs designed to eliminate back pain. And while physical ergonomics play a major role in a work environment, several key factors are involved in creating an ergonomic workspace.
Offering employees a home office stipend to cover expenses can help them create a healthy and safe workspace at home. HR leaders may consider creating an ergonomic guide sheet or packet with specific product recommendations and the following guidelines to serve as a helpful resource for employees:
- Furniture. You need a comfortable, adjustable office chair that supports the curve of your back and enables your feet to rest flat on the floor. Desk height should be set to allows employees to work without straining or hunching over to use their computer. Consider providing a home office stipend for your employees to cover these expenses.
- Technology. An ergonomic keyboard and mouse can help reduce strain on your hands and wrists. These items should be placed so that when you work, your arms hang loosely from the shoulder and bend 90 degrees at the elbow. Positioning your monitor at arm’s length with the top of your screen at eye-level can prevent neck and eye strain.
- Lighting. A home office should have adequate lighting that fully illuminates the space without glare, excessive brightness or shadows. Be sure to place your monitor perpendicular to windows and use blinds as needed to help minimize glare.
PREVENT ACCIDENTS AND INJURIES
An ergonomic home office combined with healthy working habits can help prevent musculoskeletal disorders such as tendonitis and carpal tunnel syndrome. But keep in mind that it’s still possible to sustain injuries from accidents while working from home. Consider facilitating safety training for your employees and share these recommendations to ensure their physical safety while working from home:
- Slips, trips and falls. Falling is the most common office incident. To help prevent falls, ensure electrical cords are routed out of walkways and that all carpet, flooring and rugs lay flat and are secure. If you need to reach an overhead object, make sure you use a ladder or stepstool and not a chair.
- Child safety. If you have young children at home, you’ll need to make sure your home office is childproof. Plug unused electric sockets with covers. Ensure hazardous materials and sharp tools (like scissors and paper cutters) are out of reach.
- Air quality. Poor air quality can irritate your nose and throat and strain your eyes. Make sure your home office has proper ventilation and household chemicals are used and stored safely.
We hope these tips are helpful as your organization continues to support the wellbeing and safety of your employees. To learn more and develop a comprehensive benefits program designed to enhance employee wellbeing, contact MJ’s Benefits Consulting team today.CONTACT MJ