Protecting the Physical and Mental Health of Remote Workers

Although remote working has grown in popularity recently, over a third of hybrid workers are unhappy with their company’s efforts to protect their wellbeing as they work alone at home. By creating a robust remote work policy and maintaining strong communication links, managers can help employees to remain productive while working remotely. However, as well as facing difficulties with the virtual completion of projects and practical administrative tasks, remote and hybrid employees can also find telecommuting jobs physically and mentally challenging.  Employees may require changes to their work environment to accommodate disabilities or compensate for an increasingly sedentary lifestyle, and addressing the issue of social isolation can help to preserve the mental health and wellbeing of all workers. 

Supporting Workers with Disabilities

For many workers with a disability, a lack of financial security can be challenging and applying for government benefits can be confusing. Making a successful claim for Social Security Disability Insurance could help to boost income and take away some of the anxiety of not being able to work full-time. While claimants are only able to work minimal hours, the overall number of people with disabilities who are looking for work or in employment rose by around 5 percent between 2020 and 2022.  One of the reasons behind this increase has been the accessibility of remote working. Working from home offers new opportunities, however, the Americans with Disabilities Act still requires businesses to provide extra support for disabled workers should they need it. Making reasonable accommodations such as adaptations to the working environment or changes to work schedules can help to alleviate physical discomfort and mental stress when working from home.

Encouraging Greater Mobility and Physical Health

Around 60% of employees move half as much when working from home, and this increasingly sedentary lifestyle can lead to physical and psychological stresses. Teleworkers who take regular breaks and engage in just 15 minutes exercise every day can help to cut the risk of heart disease and avoid conditions such as pandemic posture caused by slouching at a desk for hours without interruption.  Employers can encourage workers to exercise by giving them the opportunity to join a virtual fitness program with online classes.  These not  only help to improve physical fitness but also improve emotional wellbeing through social engagement with colleagues.

Reducing Feelings of Anxiety and Isolation

A recent survey revealed that gig workers experience raised levels of anxiety on more than 50% of working days. High levels of anxiety can be damaging to health and affect productivity.  As well as online exercise classes, other group activities such as virtual lunch breaks, birthday celebrations and multiplayer online games can help to reduce stress and anxiety, while at the same time alleviating social isolation, one of the main challenges of remote working.  

While remote working offers many benefits to both employees and their companies, working in isolation and without adequate rest breaks can cause physical and mental distress if left unaddressed.  Giving advice on applying for government assistance, making  accommodations for physical requirements and encouraging group activities can all help to protect the health and wellbeing of teleworkers.

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