Unveiling Hidden Health Risks in the Office

Health and safety regulations tend to focus a lot on physical health in the workplace. Yet, more and more offices have come to realise that, when it comes to keeping employees happy and productive, there are many other elements to consider. As such, there is no denying that the addition of greenery and natural light can be a game-changer for an office setup. This can significantly improve your team’s well-being and boost their mood.

Nevertheless, as more and more efforts are being made regarding well-being, motivation, and overall satisfaction, ranging from office decor to breaking rooms, office workers are left facing risks to their physical health within their work environment. After all, the average Briton works overtime, spending an extended period of time at the desk. This approach, as it happens, is not without risks. While strides have been made in addressing mental health considerations, the physical toll of the workplace often remains overlooked. Let’s consider. 

Back pain

The sedentary nature of office work, sitting at a desk for prolonged hours, combined with suboptimal ergonomics when it comes to chairs and desk height, can link to back pain. The spine is highly vulnerable to strain and misalignment, which are prone to occur when individuals accumulate extended periods of physical inactivity and poor posture.

Truth be told, a few office workers sit upright. Most individuals will gradually find themselves in a crouching position at their desks.  It becomes essential for employers to address the issue proactively. Chronic back pain is a potential consequence of desk work and one that can affect not only productivity but also employee retention. As such, a priority is to invest in ergonomic office furniture, including adjustable desks which can be used both sitting and standing, as these can promote a better posture. 

Additionally, implementing regular breaks throughout the day, as well as proactively sharing stretches and tips to maintain back health, can go a long way. 

Carpal tunnel

Computer use in today’s workplaces has given rise to a prevalent health concern: wrist pain, tingling and numbness in the fingers. This condition is typically diagnosed as carpal tunnel syndrome and stems from the repetitive motions associated with typing and mouse use. At an age where most communication is digital, it’s easy to see why carpal tunnel syndrome risks are on the rise! The cumulative impact of repetitive actions can compress the median nerve in the wrist, which may require hand surgery for resolution. 

Employers can play a pivotal role here in mitigating the risk. Ergonomic accessories, including split keyboards and specially designed mice, can be an important addition to the office environment. Naturally, sharing hand stretches and exercises can also be useful. But, it is becoming essential to change the way people are expected to work in an office or as part of a remote team. Being available at all times online with almost instant responses on chats and emails should not be a target to aim for. On the contrary, there is a lot to be said about reducing keyboard need, encouraging people to think before they type and seek answers by themselves rather than interrupting team members. 

As we navigate the challenges of modern office life, it has become imperative to recognise the interconnectedness of office setup and chronic physical conditions. From back pain to carpal tunnel syndrome, looking after your team begins by creating an environment that does not require workers to be sitting and typing all day long. 

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