Technology now enables you to communicate with your employers and colleagues from anywhere in the world. Thanks to this, you no longer have to be exposed to ill coworkers so you’re able avoid catching the flu, among other workplace illnesses.
This doesn’t make you totally immune or invincible though!
It’s still possible to get sick in a remote work arrangement. In fact, you’re more prone to certain ailments than others. The sad part is, you usually won’t be provided the health benefits offered to those in a traditional office setting. This means you’ll have to shoulder medical bills yourself.
A routine checkup and some paracetamol might not leave a huge dent on your bank account, but what if you have something worse than a cold? A month’s worth of wages may not be enough to pay the doctor’s fees alone so you’re going to have to use up your savings, if you even have any.
Be spared from the financial burden by informing yourself what the common hazards are and how to prevent them. You’ll also want to know when to consult a licensed professional to nip serious conditions in the bud.
5 Common Health Risks of Remote Workers
Here’s an affliction that office-based and home-based workers share. Curling up in a cosy nook is fine for a brief video call but not for spending hours editing an e-book. This is because using a chair that lacks lumbar support will make you hunch over and affect your posture.
According to an article from Harvard, prolonged sitting tightens the hamstrings and hip flexors, as well as stiffens the joints. These have an effect on your balance and gait and contribute towards knee stiffness and lower back pain.
Tip: Get up and stretch every now then. Walking around your garden or playing with pets, for instance, are great ways to add more activity to your day. Set a reminder and see what tasks can be done standing up. Consider investing on an adjustable sit/stand desk to improve ergonomics in your home office.
Being location-independent may actually put you at greater risk of eye strain. Yes, you get to work in a variety of venues but some of them have terrible lighting which contribute towards vision problems. Having the AC or electric fan blasting wind in your face doesn’t help your eyes either.
Additionally, staring at your computer screen for long periods can’t be avoided sometimes, especially when there are looming deadlines. Owning the newest monitor or laptop is no good when you don’t know how to tinker with the settings for greater comfort as well.
Tip: Blink more often to moisten and refresh your eyes. Plus, take eye breaks by looking away from the screen every 20 minutes for at least 20 seconds. Reduce the glare from sunlight by closing blinds and curtains.
Working in an office means your employer or manager has control over the physical environment. They provide air conditioning to keep you comfortable and hire cleaning staff to prevent dust from accumulating.
At home, you have to take care of these yourself but it’s not always possible when you’re busy.
Poor air quality and ventilation can cause sinus problems, lung infections and headaches. Allergies might also flare up from pollen, dust mites and animal dander which you haven’t been able to clean up yet.
Tip: Establish a home office or any other area where you have control over. Schedule a deep clean every other week or once a month. Keep a cleaning tool (e.g. a rag or feather duster) on hand for a quick wipe down or dusting before you begin your day.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons describes carpal tunnel syndrome as a condition that occurs when the median nerve is compressed or squeezed as it travels along the wrist. This ailment is known to get worse over time so early detection and treatment is important.
Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome may include weakness in the hand, loss of proprioception, tingling in the forearm up to the shoulder, and shock-like sensations in the fingers. These might start gradually but if they persist, consult a doctor.
Tip: Practice measures for prevention such as performing conditioning exercises before and after repetitive activities like typing. Also, adjust the height of your keyboard to reduce the bending of your wrists.
It remains to be seen if working from home is a direct cause of depression among employees. Certainly, it adds stress for some, especially for those who thrive in a busy office environment. A remote setup makes you feel isolated but comes with more distractions which serve to frustrate anyone.
Concentrating on your tasks is going to be a challenge when you have to juggle child care or pet parenting with it. Spending too much time alone makes it hard to adjust to new people too, spelling trouble when you have to collaborate with different departments for your projects.
Tip: Talk to a friend online or over the phone so you feel more connected to the rest of the world. Set aside time for meditation to achieve a sense of balance and calm.
Despite the Health Risks…
Working remotely isn’t necessarily bad for your health. Just like with any other kind of work arrangement, it has its fair share of hazards but it’s possible to avoid them if you keep yourself informed and follow the tips we’ve shared above.
Are you interested in working from home? You’re in the right place with Remote Workmate. We can connect you with clients who understand the struggles as they likely work remotely themselves. Undergo the initial screening and interview with us and see what other advice we have to share on our blog.