The current pandemic has resulted in a quantum shift in working patterns. The slower pace of change from the traditional office to a remote workforce has been accelerated by necessity. Some estimates have put it as high as twenty years’ worth of change in the first twelve months of the pandemic.
For some the move to working from home has been a blessing. The removal of the cost, inconvenience and productive time lost by the daily commute is a boon to those fortunate enough to be able to continue remote working.
There is, however, a downside. In the office setting companies had a legal responsibility to provide a safe and ergonomically effective working environment. While some people are fortunate enough to have the room to work comfortably in their homes for millions of others it has meant laptops on knees, working on the bed, sharing workspace with others between a cramped living room, kitchen, or other makeshift arrangement. Many people simply do not have the space or money to set up a good home office.
There is also the added knock-on effect of taking less exercise. A BBC news report on the impact of covid-19 on lockdown back pain found that millions of us were now living a more sedentary lifestyle. We no longer had the walk to the station and office. We had stopped going to the gym just before or after work and the lunchtime walk to get out and about was a thing of the past.
This combination of lack of exercise and poor workstation set up means that millions more have been reporting back, neck and shoulder pain. A survey quoted in the same article reported that 81% of respondents had indicated they had suffered pain or discomfort in one of these areas since the lockdown began.
Interestingly one of the most common, leaning forward hunched positions is the same one that astronauts tend to adopt by default in zero gravity conditions. While serious conditions should always be referred to a specialist some of the remedies, we can apply ourselves are a combination of those applicable to astronauts and to the ground bound.
Take regular breaks. Ensure you get more exercise and move around, maybe take desk exercises. Without spending exorbitant amounts of money try to see if there is something you or your company can do to give you a better workstation.
One of the things advised to both astronauts and those of us with terrestrial offices is to try to develop a neutral and upright posture while sitting working. This is easier said than done however help is at hand. To find out some of the options available we asked Rudy Schmidt of Fisiokit for his views.
“Often people find that all they need to keep a good, straight posture is a little physical reminder. A non-intrusive posture correcting brace can help give your body that little reminder to sit up straight. If you want, you can adjust it a little tighter and have it physically stop your shoulders from drooping into a slump. When you have to work in a cramped and awkward space it can be a lifesaver.”
Well, without wanting to sound like a sales pitch we tried one and boy were we pleasantly surprised. That firm but gentle hold really does help keep you upright effortlessly. Strongly recommend looking into what you can do in this area.