The Health Challenges of Remote Working
This guest blog post is by Mark Gray of Gray Media Consulting.
Staggeringly, as many as 60% of all UK workers did their job remotely at some point during 2020. And while many would cite this change of environment as a positive thing, it’s fair to say this brand of employment is not totally without fault.
Let’s take a closer look at how this shift in the way we work is going to have an impact on both types of health concerns. And remember, whether it’s your mind or body being affected, it’s important to make them a priority when doing your job.
Poor posture and joint pain
Slouching over a desk all day doesn’t do anyone much good. But while back and neck pain is always a concern, most offices do at least take this into account when setting up their working environments. That’s not always true of people who work from home.
People tend to work from positions which they feel relaxed in – such as lounging on the sofa, or even lying in bed – but these aren’t always the most beneficial for your joints.
Unum has highlighted the best structure for setting up your home office. The key is to ensure your neck and back are supported at all times, while any screens you may be using should sit pretty much exactly at eye-level. You can even go one step further by adding a stable footbase, if you feel your legs need additional support.
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Mental health challenges
Working alone means spending long periods of time in total isolation. This can be troubling enough at the best of times, but can become even more challenging if you’re someone who already suffers from a condition which causes your emotional state to fluctuate.
This can be the case if you have any pre-existing medical conditions, or you’re experiencing a change in your hormonal balance. This happens to women if they’re menstruating or going through menopause, but also has the ability to impact men just as easily.
Optimale highlight how the “male menopause” (more medically known as andropause) can cause sudden shifts in hormones which lead to higher levels of depression. Pre-existing conditions like bipolar disorder or generalised anxiety disorder are also common mental health problems that can occur when people are deprived of human interaction.
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Remote working, by its very nature, means you’re going to find yourself cut off most of the time. While you’re never more than a direct message away from your colleagues, solo workers won’t benefit from immediate medical attention in case of an emergency.
While it’s unlikely to happen, something like a sudden fall or an allergic reaction could leave you needing instant attention, with nobody else around to either aid you or contact the necessary emergency services. This could be a particular problem if you’re someone who regularly has seizures.
Make sure you leave emergency details in an obvious place, and try to keep your mobile phone on you at all times to prevent yourself from becoming totally cut off.
While we’re certainly not downplaying the benefits that working from home offers employees, it’s important to weigh up both sides. Keeping these factors in mind when you next take a break from the office will help to protect your health – both mentally and physically.