Working from home is an amazing opportunity that more and more working newbies and professionals are embracing nowadays. Aside from the flexible work schedule that they can have, there are various other benefits that this work setup can bring. These benefits include working closer to their families, helping on some household errands, and saving more time as well as other resources compared to working in a company office. However, despite the advantages provided by a work-from-home setup, there are common risks every home-based worker should be aware of. Knowing these risks will help to avoid bigger problems that may affect a worker’s health and performance.
New information from Statistics Canada suggests that more Canadians will be working from home even when the COVID-19 pandemic is over since more employers stated that their staff members can do their jobs more effectively when done remotely.
The article also mentioned:
“Previous data from Statistics Canada reported that 40 per cent of Canada’s workers found themselves working from home as pandemic lockdowns were enforced. That compares to less than 10 per cent in 2018 who had the option to work a day or two a week from home.”
Hubstaff Blog shared an article discussing some top disadvantages of working from home including the following: lack of community, differences in work culture, problems with communication, low retention, difficulty in managing teams, logistic and payment issues, lower productivity, and security problems.
Top Common Risks When When Working from Home
As previously mentioned, working from home entails a lot of benefits especially nowadays that this pandemic is still affecting all of us. However, just like any other thing, there are always two sides for us to consider. Working in the comfort of our homes can also pose some possible risks that can impact both health and work performance.
#1 Display Screen Equipment (DSE)
Display Screen Equipment (DSE) refers to a graphic or alphanumeric display screen, with any type of display process included. It comprises laptops, PCs, smartphones, and tablets as well as other ways of displaying data like CCTV screens.
Most of the work-from-home workers use desktop computers or laptops for their work. Some possible health risks that arise from using these types of equipment and tools are visual fatigue, upper limb issues, repetitive strain injuries(RSI), mental stress, strand eye strain. This can be worsened especially if the workstation is not set up properly.
Healthy Working Lives published a more comprehensive article about health risks due to display screen equipment. Mentioned in the article are some of the factors that contribute to the physical risks when working at home, such as:
- Excessive workload
- Poor posture
- Overuse of muscles due to repetitive movements
- Poorly set up a workstation
- Lack of proper work ergonomics
- Prolonged hours of work without regular breaks
Aside from making sure that the work station is properly set up, it is also important to wear protective gear such as anti-screen glare glasses, footrests, wrist pads, and others when working.
#2 Musculoskeletal Disorders and other Posture-related issues
Since most home-based workers are working using computers and other tools, they become more prone to musculoskeletal disorders. An online article defines musculoskeletal disorders(MSDs) as “…injuries or disorders of the muscles, nerves, tendons, joints, cartilage, and spinal discs.” The same article also stated the following:
“Musculoskeletal disorders are associated with high costs to employers such as absenteeism, lost productivity, and increased health care, disability, and worker’s compensation costs. MSD cases are more severe than the average nonfatal injury or illness.”
According to Healthline.com, common musculoskeletal disorders include bone fractures, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, tendinitis, osteoarthritis, and fibromyalgia. The risk of MSDs increases while a person is getting older. The most usual signs and symptoms of MSDs are swelling, pain, stiff joints, and dull aches.
In addition, there are several other posture-related issues that may impact the health and work performance. Sitting and standing for long hours can cause issues such as experiencing fatigue, back pain, neck pain, and other health risks.
Natasha Bernal, wrote an article entitled “Working from Home is Ruining your Posture, Here’s How to Fix It” and pointed out the significance of using ergonomic tools and accessories.
“If you’re lucky, you have a home office — but you’d be in the minority. Rather than office desks and chairs, most people are having to choose between sofas, beds, kitchen tables or the floor, moving less than ever before in smaller spaces. And this could have a devastating impact on our bodies.”
Well and Good stated three work-from-home postures and how to solve them effectively. Included in these problems include too much pressure on the base of the spine, wrist and finger pain, and sore shoulders and neck.
#3 Time Management Problems
Working from home can be distracted by several factors such as kids playing around, noise, and conflicts between personal and professional career.
Effective time management has become a powerful tool beyond effective productivity. It becomes a medium of creating more meaningful and stable empowerment that will create an enhancement of the work-from-home setup.
Some tips to create an efficient time management system while working from home include the following:
- Create a dedicated space in your house
- Limit distractions
- Keep a clear schedule
- Take regular breaks
- Reward yourself after a day’s work
- Conduct meetings only when necessary
- Keep a clear mind by meditating or alleviating stress
- Delegate tasks
Time is one of the most valuable resources that should be used wisely when working from home. Make sure to create a to-do list and follow this with strict discipline.
#4 Psychosocial risks
Some people who are working from home can sometimes have the feeling of isolation since there are no team workers around like in the traditional office. Other issues include fatigue, lack of social support, reduced managerial supervision, online harassment, and even domestic violence.
#5 Physical risks from poorly set up workstation
If you’re working from home, make sure to evaluate your workstation. Is it organized and set up properly? Is your table set up with the proper height? Are you using the right ergonomic chair and accessories?
There can be physical risks such as poor posture, slouching, and having a forward neck posture. It can also lead to other problems like falls, trips, sprains, strains, and other injuries.
Stress does not only affect the physical aspect of someone’s life. It also brings impact to the emotional and mental state that can worsen when not given proper attention.
The difficulty of getting focused on your job while working at home can create a stressful experience. You may get distracted on how to get rid of the various distractions inside the house. You can also experience some challenges when it comes to doing household chores during working hours. Failure to meet deadlines and poor quality work results often lead to being stressed and may even cause bigger issues. That is why it is imperative to keep your mental and physical health on the right track to ensure better productivity while working from home.
#7 Cybersecurity Risks
Unlike in the traditional company offices, there are usually IT departments that can handle issues when it comes to technology and security. However, that can be limited when you’re working at home. Although an anti-virus for your computer can be easily installed, there are some other cybersecurity issues that can be encountered.
Sam Curry, Chief of Security at Cybereason wrote an article for Entrepreneur.com
“Virtual private networks, or VPNs, have become the new lifeline for many businesses, extending encrypted networks to our homes. However, many home networks are already infected with malware or compromised hardware that can be exploited for staging attacks through machines with VPN termini. A compromised identity or a machine, especially when behavioural baselining on the backend is in flux, can allow hackers to piggyback through the VPN. It’s critical to have endpoint integrity checking and strong authentication in place at this stage once the VPN is in place and active.”
Work-from-home individuals must be well-informed of the common risks at work as mentioned above. Learn how to apply proper ergonomics as well as choosing the best equipment, tools, and accessories that will provide them with comfort and convenience while working. Some of these are standing desks, desk converters, ergonomic mouse, ergonomic chair, and more. Visit AnthroDesk’s store to make sure you’ll stay updated.