Tailored apps, webinars, healthy sleep workshops and desk exercise can contribute to effectively tackling the surging numbers of musculoskeletal (MSK) injuries due to homeworking.
Research by Ascenti found half of home workers had suffered more neck and back pain but the firm told employers they could help to combat this.
Speaking at a webinar organised by insurer WPA, Ascenti MSK occupational health physiotherapy service lead Jonny Scattergood highlighted the severity of the situation.
He revealed 48% of workers surveyed by Ascenti said they were working from home, with 72% of this group working from the sofa and 56% from bed. Half of those surveyed reported increases in neck and back pain.
Scattergood explained this was due to an increase in sedentary behaviour among people working from home and a reduced exposure to incidental movement – exercise people don’t really think about such as the walk to the train station or walking around to the office kitchen or for a meeting.
He added people need at least 60 to 75 minutes of moderate exercise a day.
Chief commercial officer Kevin Doyle pointed out there was much employers could do to tackle the problem for those in the workplace and working from home but they should seek to improve health cultures rather than treat the issue as a box ticking exercise.
Doyle urged delegates to think about hybrid approaches involving remote and in person care, more proactive mental health services, sleep workshops as sleep is crucial to the overall wellbeing of the workforce, as well as promoting being outside and good health behaviours.
He suggested this culture can also be created through the use of dedicated MSK apps, webinars or pre recorded workshops on osteoarthritis, healthy lifestyle recommendations on better diet, nutrition, smoking cessation and homeworking.
Creating company sports teams and promoting cycle to work schemes produced benefits and employers can also signpost local exercise services and even engage in ‘deskercise’ where people exercise at their desk once a week for half an hour.
Doyle noted staff should be asked about their preferences and requirements, but added that meaningful intervention reduced costs for businesses by reducing long term absence.
“We know that it accelerates return to work. It prevents injuries from deteriorating and reconditioning both their physical and mental health and we reduce absence so that increases productivity and profitability,” he said.
“We increase staff retention and loyalty which I think is going to be absolutely crucial moving forward and it reduces the propensity for claims, litigation and provides the opportunity to reduce insurance premiums.”