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Ensuring Good Ergonomics in a Hybrid Working Model

03 April 2023

If you look around yourself closely, you'll be able to see how drastically the dynamics of workplaces have changed over the course of 3 years. The concept of remote working and flexibility around working schedules was foreign to most employers and employees could only wish for it. However, the world we live in today is very different. Today, remote working is the new normal! Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now that the pandemic is over, many organizations have returned to on-site operations. But some organizations have transitioned into a hybrid working model. The hybrid model is where the employees work some days from the office and some days remotely. The hybrid model seems like a better option as it helps employers and employees overcome the challenges of a fully remote working model, like lack of social interaction. But that doesn't mean the hybrid working model doesn't have any challenges. One of the biggest challenges of a hybrid working model is ensuring good ergonomics for the employees.

This blog post talks about how ensuring ergonomics in a hybrid working model is a challenge and how you can overcome it to ensure the employees aren't at risk of developing any consequences due to poor ergonomic conditions.

What Makes Ensuring Ergonomics in a Hybrid Model So Difficult?

As we said earlier, ensuring good ergonomics in a hybrid working model is one of the biggest challenges. This is mainly because no matter how good the ergonomics of the office are, employers have little control over the working conditions of employees when they're working from home.

Most employers ensure that the working conditions of their workplaces are safe and healthy for their employees, but it's practically impossible for an employer to ensure good ergonomic conditions for every remote employee.

Most employees who work from home don't have proper workstations and continue to work in poor ergonomic conditions, thereby putting themselves at risk of developing serious health conditions. If the employees fall sick due to poor ergonomics, the business will suffer, and the employer will have to bear the burden.

Statistics show that 40% of remote employees don't have dedicated workspaces at home, 20% of employees work from their living rooms, and about 30% of remote employees work from their beds. Statistics also suggest that 60% of remote employees are unable to bring their ergonomic workstations and equipment from their offices to their homes. This puts remote employees at a massive risk of musculoskeletal disorders.

3 Ways to Ensure Good Ergonomics in a Hybrid Working Model

Poor ergonomic conditions will directly impact employee health, safety, and productivity, which will then affect the business. It's your responsibility as an employer to ensure that your employees are working in healthy and safe conditions, whether they're working in the office or at home.

Below are some of the ways you can help your employees safeguard their health and safety when working in a hybrid work environment by ensuring good ergonomics.

Design a Thorough Hybrid Working Policy

A hybrid work model offers employees a lot of flexibility but still gives the employer some control over the employees' work schedules. For example, if an organization is operating remotely entirely, the employees work in their comfort, giving employers little to no control over their routine and schedule. However, when an organization adopts a hybrid model, the employers can design a thorough hybrid working policy in which they can specify how many days every employee must work from the office.

This gives an employer more control over the working conditions. Let's see how. The employer can design an ergonomic office and make it mandatory for all employees to work at least 3 days from the office. A policy like this would ensure that employees spend more time working in an ergonomic office environment and less time in a poor ergonomic environment of their homes.

The policy can also specify standards for home offices. For example, the policy can make it mandatory for all employees to have an ergonomic work desk and chair at home so that the risk of musculoskeletal disorders can be kept at a bare minimum.

Offer Reimbursements

You can't expect your employees to invest in ergonomic office equipment for their home offices. Ergonomic furniture and equipment aren't cheap, which is one of the biggest reasons why not many remote employees work on designing ergonomic home offices. One way to ensure your employees work in ergonomic conditions, even at home, is by offering them reimbursements. When employees know that any money they spend on making an ergonomic home office will be reimbursed, they won't hesitate to spend it. This option may look like a costly route initially but when you compare the cost with the consequences of poor working conditions like medical costs, lost productivity, and absenteeism, you'll understand that this is one of the most cost-effective options out there.

Give Training About Ergonomics

You can't expect your employees to make an active, conscious effort towards improving the ergonomics of their home offices when they don't know what ergonomics are, why they are important, and how they can improve their home offices' ergonomics. Training the employees can make a huge difference.

When the employees know how poor ergonomics affect their health, safety, and productivity and how they can ensure that they don't fall prey to the consequences of poor ergonomics, they'll actively try to steer clear of the worst.

4 Pieces of Ergonomic Equipment You Should Have in Place for Your Employees

We've said this before, and we'll say it again – it's your responsibility to ensure the health and safety of your employees, both those working on-site and those working from home.

We've listed some ergonomic equipment that you should have in your office for your employees and also make it a point that all your employees have these in their home offices.

Ergonomic Work Desk

The first and the most important piece of furniture that you need to ensure good workplace ergonomics is an ergonomic work desk. An ergonomic work desk isn't like the regular office desks, and definitely not the table you use as a makeshift workstation at home.

Ergonomic desks come with excellent adjustability features to ensure every user is comfortable and at ease. The user can adjust the height of the desk to suit themselves so that they don't have to sit in incorrect posture while working (the back curved and shoulders slumping). It's absolutely important that your work desk is at an appropriate height. If you don't get the height of your work desk correct, you can never get your posture right!

Ergonomic Chair

The next thing you need to do to ensure your employees are seated and working in the correct posture is to provide them with ergonomic chairs. The ergonomic chair is literally the heart of an ergonomic work environment. The chair is where your employees will be seated most of the day and the chair is the primary source of discomfort and pain in most offices.

An ergonomic chair like the Ergonomic Office Chair BS7 comes with an adjustable height feature to ensure the user's feet aren't dangling in the air and are placed flat on the floor (just how they should be). The user can also adjust the seat depth so that the seat is adjusted according to their physique. Not only this, the ergonomic chair offers superior back support with its flexible backrest. Some ergonomic chairs are also equipped with armrests to offer elbow support.

Adjustable Monitor Mount

If the computer screen isn't placed at an appropriate height, the user will have to sit in an incorrect posture. If the computer monitor is placed too high, the user will have to sit with their head bent forward (chin out posture) and shoulders raised awkwardly. If the computer screen is placed at a height that's too low, the user will have to sit with their head bent forward. If the computer monitor isn't right in front of the eyes, the user will have to tilt their head to view the screen. If the employees are using an ergonomic work desk, they can lower or raise the desk to ensure the computer screen is at eye level. However, if ergonomic work desks aren't an option, an adjustable monitor mount is a must!

An adjustable monitor mount enables you to adjust the computer screen's height, distance, and angle to ensure that the computer screen is at eye level, at an arm's distance, and right in front of the user.

Back Support Pillow

One way to ensure adequate back support without an ergonomic chair is the use of a back support pillow. A back support pillow features a unique, contoured design that aligns with the spine's natural curvature and reduces the strain on the back.

Closing Word

Ensuring good ergonomics in a hybrid working model isn't easy, but it isn't impossible either. It requires extensive effort. All your employees may not cooperate with you initially, but with the right (and firm) ergonomic policies, you can make your employees follow ergonomic working standards in the office and at home.