Advancing technology and a new wave of tech-savvy workers has made the concept of remote working from the comfort of your own home increasingly convenient, popular, and prevalent. In our constantly-connected modern world, we are able to stay in direct communication from just about anywhere, which is allowing some to step out of the office environment to complete their work. However appealing it may sound to lounge about at home with your laptop rather than dragging yourself into the office, new research has suggested it may actually be doing some level of physical harm, as those working from home have a higher likelihood of suffering from a work-related injury.

The research, the findings of which were released by Bupa to coincide with National Work From Home Day, revealed that home-based workers are as much as 10% more likely to suffer from a work-related injury as compared to those working in a more traditional workplace, with more than half of home workers surveyed having sustained injuries, aches, or pains as a direct result of their working environment.

The primary cause seems to be the set-up of such workers; while at the office you’re generally provided with a desk and a decent chair, many remote workers neglect to incorporate such a workstation into their home, opting instead to work from a dining table or, as was the case with 40% of those asked, a sofa or bed. The lack of a dedicated workspace, set up properly so as to reduce the risk of strains and injuries, significantly increases the risk of musculoskeletal injury, which neck and back-ache being the most common complaints.

The research further revealed that it is not only our bodies that are taking the strain as a result of such improper working conditions at home; our minds too are feeling the effects. Just shy of half of home-based workers involved in the study say they work longer hours at home than they would in the office, leading to a build-up of stress and fatigue over time, both of which can take more out of you than you may realise.

It’s not all bad news for home workers however, as the research did highlight a few health-related benefits of flexible working arrangements. For example, three in five home workers state that the arrangement has allowed them to incorporate more exercise into their day, while roughly the same proportion says they are able to follow a healthier diet as a result. Two in three spoke of the freedom to take more regular breaks from their work area, which is known to have a number of health benefits both physical and mental.

With that in mind, the researchers are not advising that home-based working should be eliminated entirely, but rather that steps must be taken in order to protect the health and wellbeing of such workers. Damian McClelland, Clinical Director for Musculoskeletal Services at Bupa UK said, “Working from home is a flexible benefit which is growing in popularity, however there are physical risks involved if people do not take the same precautions as they do in the workplace.

“Employers ensure their employees have an appropriate workspace at work, if someone doesn’t regularly work from home they may not have ergonomic furniture or the correct technology needed to avoid physical health issues, such as neck and back pain.

“All of this which could result in time off work which is why we have created a home-working health checklist.”

Bupa’s aforementioned home-working health checklist is as follows:
  • Work in a room with adequate light so you don’t have to strain your eyes
  • Sit in a chair where your feet can reach the floor, or are supported by a footrest
  • Ensure your monitor is at least an arm’s length away from you and the top of the monitor is at eye level
  • Try to use a hands-free phone line and avoid typing/writing with a phone between your ear and shoulder, as this can lead to neck problems
  • Try to break more regularly than you would in an office as your posture is likely to be worse at home, ideally every 20 – 30 minutes
  • Make time to stretch out to avoid stiffness, particularly if you spend a long period of time in the same position

Sam Bonson

Sam is an aspiring novelist with a passion for fantasy and crime thrillers. He is currently working as a content writer, journalist & editor in an attempt to expand his horizons.
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