Working from home comes with several benefits. You save time because you no longer have to commute to and from work. That also translates to saving money on gas. You also get to spend more time with your family. These are the same reasons employees are hesitant to go back to the office.
But despite its many benefits, working from home does have its drawbacks. For one, you can only communicate with your colleagues via Zoom calls or email. For certain tasks, these modes of communication don’t seem enough.
Working from home can also expose you to health risks. Below is a list of some of these risks and how to prevent them:
While musculoskeletal injuries can occur in different occupations, the work-from-home setup has made them more prevalent. This is because most employees don’t have an ergonomic set-up in their own homes. Some do their work while in bed.
One study found that four in five employees who shifted to working from home in 2020 experience back, neck, or shoulder pain. In the worst situations, musculoskeletal pain is a valid reason to receive a disability benefit. If you already experience it due to working from home, you can talk to your employer or seek help from a Social Security disability attorney for guidance on receiving claims.
There are many ways to avoid and prevent musculoskeletal pain while working from home. First, avoid sitting for long periods. Set a reminder every 30 minutes. It will be your reminder to stand up and stretch or walk around.
Having an ergonomic workstation at home can also help. Plop up your monitor on a pile of books so that it’s at your eye level. This will prevent you from looking down while you work, which can hurt your neck. Do the same if you’re using a laptop. Although in this case, you need an external keyboard and mouse.
People are now working longer hours during the pandemic. Employees are having difficulty focusing. So they’re taking longer to finish their work. Others are working more than one job for the sake of financial security.
But long hours of staring at a blue screen is harmful to the eyes. It can result in dry eyes, blurred vision, watery eyes, or even a headache. This problem may not lead to permanent damage to your vision. But eye strain can make you very uncomfortable.
To avoid eye strain, make sure that you are working in a well-lit environment. Taking a break from your screen will also help your eyes get some rest. One popular strategy is the “20-20-20 rule.” Every 20 minutes, stare at something that’s at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds. When your eyes feel dry, use eye drops.
Working from home means all meetings are done through virtual conference calls. And long periods of calls can strain not just your eyes but also your ears. And when you’re not in a call, you may have your earphones plugged into your ears to listen to music or simply avoid distracting background noise.
Always having your earphones on can negatively affect your ears. In India, more employees are complaining about ear infections and worsening listening ability because of using earphones for more than eight hours a day.
In this case, the solution is quite simple. When you’re not in a Zoom call but want to listen to music, do so using your phone’s or computer’s speakers, rather than using earphones. Also, make sure that you regularly clean your earbuds to prevent infections. Remove the silicone or foam tips from your earphones. Soak these tips in a mixture of dishwashing liquid and lukewarm water, then rinse and dry.
Mental Health Risks
Working from home can also affect your mental well-being. For example, working long hours can lead to stress. Also, when you work from home, the line between work and home becomes blurred. This situation can also be stressful. You’ll feel pressured to keep doing work even when you shouldn’t. You’re also less likely to take a break as a result.
One solution you can do is to assign a specific workspace in your home. This strategy will at least give you a sense of boundary between work and home. Also, consider doing mental wellness exercises such as meditation and exercise.
The health risks of working from home should not be ignored. If they’re not addressed, they can lead to worse problems for your health. So make sure that you take breaks often and engage in recreational activities to prevent these health risks.