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Working from home causes physical damage և companies see opportunities

Lindsay Burns was aiming to get a desk chair after an epidemic forced her to start working from home. As the owner of a yoga therapy clinic, he understands the importance of posture more than many.

A year later, “I tend to work a lot in bed or on the floor, using the bed as a table,” said Burns, 38. “In fact, I’m constantly in deep thigh flexion, it really causes pain and tension in the contours.”

For many who have been working remotely since March 2020, the Home Office has never really become one. Just an improvised device that was meant to last for several weeks. At what point will life definitely return to normal?

But those stations are less than ideal, very small, very low monitors. tables that do not fit; chairs without armchairs և back support; Built-in keyboards and touch keys instead of external. In combination with sedentary work habits, they caused physical damage to the epidemic.

Distant workers report suffering from aches and pains, joint pain, stiffness, numbness, carpal tunnel, and headaches. This is a concern for employers, especially as many adopt a consistent home-based policy, benefiting businesses that offer solutions such as painkillers, office equipment, and ergonomic advice.

“I have constant tension in my back and shoulders, there are problems in the back just at the base of my spine,” said Rose Salm, a Vancouver tax accountant in Canada. “I think my head is far ahead. “Maybe it’s the corner of the screen or something, but I have muscle pain in the upper part of my neck.”

Salm, 26, blames the environment, which makes it extremely easy to spend hours in real time.

“You are encouraged to get up and walk around the office,” he said. “Now that I’m home, I don’t really get up at all until I’m hungry or something.”

His illnesses are echoed in doctors’ offices, on Slack channels, and on social media as employees try to adjust.

“It’s working from home rubbing my back and neck»

“I may need to improve my ergonomics at work from home, because from the time I started working again, my my neck kills me»

“I turned my desk into a standing desk, literally just putting boxes on it. It already did.” world of difference for my posture, like neck, back and shoulder pain. ”

Doctors and physicians point to a number of contributing factors. Office workers had professional workshops և, in many companies, had access to ergonomic professionals. It is equally possible that work life revolved around everyday life. Get dressed վել change, attend church meetings, take breaks, go out for dinner, maybe go to the gym.

“There was a forced movement. And now all of a sudden, that routine is gone, ”said Scott Boutch, of the Occupational Health Council of the American Chiropractic Association. “The work environment has not moved much to the home environment.”

Last spring, the Chiropractic Association surveyed its members and found that 92% of those surveyed said they had seen an increase in musculoskeletal conditions, such as back and neck pain, as a result of patients working from home. In a summer survey, 57% of respondents said that the main reason for the increase in these problems during the epidemic was a lack of movement, followed by psychological stress (20%) and poor posture (12%).

How do some employers react?

Some employers, especially those in the technology sector, have provided significant support for the proper placement of their employees.

On Twitter, employees receive $ 1,000 to equip and equip their offices, which may include AirPods, foot rests, air purifiers, and “soft video conferencing,” the spokesman said.

Salesforce offered its employees $ 250 in advance in the spring to help cover the cost of office equipment. It added $ 250 more in the fall. The San Francisco company also provides all its employees with the opportunity to receive an ergonomic assessment from a specialist, the spokesman said.

Last March, Shopify gave each of its employees $ 1,200 in benefits, an additional $ 1,440, after announcing two months later that it would be moving to a permanent job from anywhere, even after the epidemic was over. In addition to the usual office basics, the staff used the money to buy espresso machines, slippers, bean bag chairs, and an “office snack rack.”

“We trust our employees; we have not set guidelines for this remote benefit,” said Brittany Forsythe, Talent CEO of Shopify.

Some companies are seeing an increase in the epidemic

The mass migration of white-collar workers away from their booths has created an unexpected opportunity for furniture manufacturers whose customers have historically been companies rather than individual consumers.

“Office chairs. They are now sold like hot cakes, ”said Anirt Bernat, a spokesman for the Surgical Association.

Office furniture giant Herman Miller saw a 62% stake in his office from February 21 to March 18 last year as corporate America abruptly shut down.

Michigan ee elandia Company quickly regrouped. A few months ago, Herman Miller opened his first retail store, selling his ubiquitous Aeron chairs and other high-end office furniture directly to consumers.

His first store opened in November in Westfield Century City, followed by a second in Manhattan a few weeks later; The company plans to open several of them throughout the country this year. Since then, its shares have recovered, almost tripling in price over the past 12 months.

“The big change we’ve made this year is really about positioning these products as consumers’ health and productivity products,” said Debbie Prospt, Herman Miller Retail.

Just as the mattress industry really put forward this message: “There are all these benefits to getting a good night’s sleep,” we have the same opportunity as the ergonomic seating category. Sitting is bad for you, but if you are going to sit, you have to sit well. ”

Brands selling brand destruction solutions are also seeing sales growth. “Since the outbreak, dozens of companies have turned to Hyperice to ask their employees to buy Hypervolt hand massagers, vibrating foam rolls, and other products,” said CEO Jim im Juiter.

“We have created a more aggressive plan so that employers can act accordingly,” he said, including a 10% to 20% discount on corporate core orders. Netflix, LinkedIn, Google և Nike were among the 250 companies that bought Hyperice products for their remote employees.

As a result, sales of Irvine’s $ 249 Venom portable device increased by 300% in 2020 compared to the previous year, և total revenue increased by 40%. He said the increase was “due to the explosion of home fitness and health during the epidemic.”

Employees seeking self-help

Good products help, but employees say they also try to teach them about healthy ergonomic practice.

After working at home for months, 37-year-old Rachel Wilder er ons was overcoming a number of problems. “Fatigue. Lots of lower back pain. My feet were going to sleep while I was sitting at the table. “Waking up in the middle of the night in sharp pain,” said Wilder Jones, a major health insurance provider.

He started taking painkillers, but “it just covered the issue instead of getting the root cause,” he said. When his company began working with San Francisco-based startup Hinge Health, he registered in October.

Hinge Health provides clients with a digital health plan to help them manage their musculoskeletal problems. WilderJones were sent a yoga mat, exercise equipment և tablet with a pre-loaded health app combined with wearing sensors. He was also assigned a physical therapist and a health coach.

“It’s essentially a matter of approaching your care rather than taking medication or having surgery,” said Wilder Jones, of Durham, NC. Learning to stretch “saves my life.”

Hinge Health reported that during the first 10 months of the epidemic, its customer base tripled and revenue quadrupled. In January, the company announced that it had raised $ 300 million in venture capital, giving it an estimated $ 3 billion.

Tips for relieving stress and tension

For employees whose companies have not provided financial or otherwise assistance, medical experts say there are still a number of things they can do. Bautch of the Chiropractic Association said the most important thing is to remember to move around regularly.

“Every 15-20 minutes, we need a five-second break to keep our noses and fingers as far apart as possible, which extends your perspective,” he said. “It is a rule of contradictions. If I look forward to it, I have to look back. “If I look to the left, I have to look to the right.”

If your desktop is in place, he said, raise your monitor using books to keep your screen at eye level. If you use a laptop, move around the house during the day, starting with your desk, then stand at the counter for a while, for example.

If you do not have a proper office chair և you can buy it out of pocket, look for one with an adjustable height և “in front of the waterfall”. Inward curvature relieves knee pressure. Sitting on an exercise ball instead of occasionally sitting at a table chair also helps. Invest in a separate keyboard.

Bautch admitted that the price of these products can be added, but “it’s your body. “Don’t worry about who pays for it.”

Getting out of the epidemic

But after months of doing the work and returning to some normal state of sight, Burns said he planned to get out of the epidemic with his bed-floor layout.

“I looked for good chairs and good tables,” he said, “but the costs outweigh the benefits at the moment.”

Burns was lucky two weeks ago as he drove to his home in Cottonsville and spotted an office chair with a “free” sign on the side of the road.

The chair is now in his bedroom. “But I do not have a desktop to work on.”

This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.


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