Wfh may be good for our peace of mind – but is it good for our backs?

According to the Office of National Statistics in April 2020 about half of the UK working population worked from home [wfh]. Women made up a slightly higher proportion of that number than did men. All indications are that a significant proportion of all workers intend to continue to do so on a permanent basis.

Even before covid there had been the gradual increase in wfh – mainly as a result of enabling technology and the growing demand for flexible options. However, the pandemic has bought new meaning to wfh. Before March 2020 flexible working was largely limited by industry and region. The information and communication sector had the highest rate at just over 60 percent of workers [retail the lowest at about 20 percent]. And regionally London was the most significant with 43 percent, largely due to its industry concentration of finance and professional services, whereas Northern Ireland had the lowest at just over 2 percent.

Following two lockdowns and the gradual re-opening of the UK economy the world of work as we knew it looks set to change.

But some things don’t change….at least not quickly – Our body mechanics!

The workplace has clearly set out procedures covering health and safety aimed at reducing the risk of incidents in the workplace. Indeed legislation, largely from the early 1990s onwards, requires firms put appropriate measures in place to protect workers. Such measures included monitoring desk sitting posture, proximity to computer screens, etc. But what happens when responsibility for personal health and safety switches to the individual? To what extent do we put measures in place towards ensuring our safety/good health in our home environment? Have you invested in ensuring a healthy work station?

According to the NHS back pain is the single largest cause of disability in the UK. Simple or mechanical back pain is the condition that most people will suffer from during their life-time. The main influencing factors are poor posture, prolonged sitting in an uncomfortable position and muscular tension due to emotional or work-related stress. So being mindful of the need for back care – here are a few ways to prevent the onset of back pain:

1. Healthy eating to maintain energy and keep an appropriate body weight.

2. Regular exercise – stretches/Pilates to keep back muscles fit and flexible.

3. Avoid prolonged sitting – take regular 20 minute breaks.

4. Maintain good posture – perhaps with the help of a lumbar support cushion.

8 thoughts on “Wfh may be good for our peace of mind – but is it good for our backs?”

  1. I wouldn’t be w/out my lumbar support cushion! Combined w/ my office chair it’s been a life saver for me working from home.

  2. Jennisa Del Mundo

    A great read and a really important reminder! I must admit, it’s difficult to keep up the good habits but so vital for our health.

    1. I think we are all guilty in not taking regular breaks from the pc! Perhaps we should set reminders on our phone..hmmm

      Thank you for your feedback.

      All the best
      Dave

  3. I spent years in multiple offices on chairs I personally purchased for myself, to be comfortable. I now spend most of my working hours sat at my dining table on a dining chair, how times change. H&S has gone out the window as we just don’t have space for additional chairs, something to consider for the years ahead adapting chairs we have with additional supports to make them safer for longer use for work purposes.

    1. I couldn’t agree more. Times have certainly changed regarding the way we work – with more changes on the horizon. Yes we must adapt and be mindful of the hazards of the ‘sitting disease’ – more of that in my next post.

      Thank you for your feedabck – much appreciated.

      All the best
      Dave

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