The Canadian Institute for Safety, Wellness & Performance (CIWSP) recently released the results of a national survey of the impacts of working from home on the physical and mental well-being on Canadians. The study included 1617 respondents (79% based on Ontario), of whom over 90% were working full time hours from their homes.
For many Canadians, the change to working from home has been a reality for over a year. However, the impact of this change on our lifestyle is continuing to have ongoing effects to both our physical and mental well-being.
Over 80% of respondents reported being worn out at the end of the work day and 70% reported symptoms of stress, including frustration.
Those living with dependents reported higher levels of burnout and stress.
In addition, over a third of respondents indicated that work interfered with home and family life.
Approximately 60% of respondents indicated that they have a dedicated work space in their homes. However, over 30% of individuals do not have an adjustable chair and 35% reported working directly on their laptops without external devices.
As Ergonomists, we have been encouraging employees and employers to make arrangements to take home, at minimum, their external keyboards and mice. For too long, we have all been treating workstations as “temporary” and have not dedicated the time to setting them up correctly. We are too far into this pandemic not to be prioritizing our well-being and getting our workstations set-up properly.
It comes as no surprise then, that 70% of respondents reported experiencing pain or discomfort at the end of their working day, in particular discomfort to their neck, shoulders (screen too low and keyboard too high) and to their lower backs (likely due to improper seating). Perhaps more concerning is that 25% of respondents rated their general health as poor or fair.
Despite these results indicating that Canadians are struggling both physically and mentally from the switch to working from home, 70% of respondents indicated a desire to continue to work from home in some capacity post-pandemic. So where does that leave us if we want to protect the health and well-being of our staff and for ourselves?
Working from Home Tips
A few things to consider:
Take the time to set up your workstation properly
- Request permission to take home your external keyboard and mouse.
- If possible, request permission to take home your monitor and chair.
- Position your keyboard and mouse at elbow height
- Position the top of the monitor level with the eyes
- Position the feet on the floor or footrest with the hips, knees, and elbows at 90-degree angles
Look after your health and well-being
- Maintain reasonable working hours
- Set boundaries between work & home responsibilities
- Stretch and take regular breaks away from your workstation
Promote a sense of team
- Look for opportunities to collaborate
- Check in with colleagues to make sure everyone is doing ok. Reach out if you or someone needs help.
Written by Rachel Mitchell, R.Kin, CCPE, Manger of Ergonomic Services ERGO Inc.
Ergo Inc. remains dedicated to providing safe and professional ergonomic consulting services.