Your employees might be working from home these days, but just like in the office, maintaining a positive workplace culture is vital. And part of maintaining that culture means promoting the safety of your employees — both physically and mentally.
Here are some ways you can improve the health and safety of your employees while they continue to work from home.
Physical Health and Safety At Home
Providing a safe workspace is your first priority when ensuring the health and safety of your employees. It’s not enough for employees to have the tools they need to do the job; they need the knowledge and training to use those tools effectively and safely.
Employee workstations should be set up to reduce the impact of movements that can risk injury, and should meet the same health and safety requirements as those back in the office.
Ergonomics In The Workplace
Blending physiology, psychology and engineering, the goal of ergonomics is to create a physically safe space that reduces the risk of injury, especially from repetitive movements, while at work.
For employees who use a computer to work (and are probably sitting for prolonged periods of time), ergonomics can come in handy. Ergonomics is about creating an ideal physical work environment for every individual – this can influence the height and design of your chair, the angle of your computer monitor, and more. When implemented effectively, ergonomics can help reduce injuries like:
- Musculoskeletal injury, such as carpal tunnel syndrome
- Neck pain
- Shoulder pain
- Eye strain
Examples Of An Ergonomic Workspace
Here are some guidelines for a proper ergonomic desk set-up:
- Sit in a chair that encourages good posture: back straight, shoulders back and relaxed, and head above shoulders
- Keep desk chair a good distance away from monitor – about an arm’s length distance is recommended
- Make sure work areas are well-lit to reduce eye strain
How Can I Support Ergonomics At Home?
As an employer, here are a few ways you can support your employees physical well-being while at home:
- Encourage regular stretching and standing breaks, ideally every 30 minutes to an hour
- Consider exploring height-adjustable desks for your employees, which can provide a balance between standing and sitting
- Offer a stipend for home-office expenditures, like for an ergonomic chair or laptop stand
Mental Health and Safety
Understandably, the past year has taken a toll on Canadians’ mental health: In a study conducted between September and December 2020, Statistics Canada found that 1 in 5 Canadian adults screened positive for at least one of three assessed mental disorders (major depressive disorders, generalized anxiety disorders, and posttraumatic stress disorders).
With the office predominantly at home for most, it’s trickier for employees to strike an ideal work-life balance. A lack of separation between home and work can make it difficult for employees to work productively.
As an employer, employees look to you to provide the tools (and opportunities) they need to mentally recharge. As an employer, you should encourage your employees to utilize these tools when possible. Fostering a healthy attitude towards mental health will benefit your employees and overall workplace culture.
How Can I Support Mental Health In The Workplace?
Here are a few practices you can implement to help your employees feel supported, mentally and emotionally:
- Schedule regular check-ins; chat about work progress, how they’re feeling with workloads, and how they’re doing overall
- Promote breaks (no “working lunches”) throughout the day
- Encourage employees to schedule vacation time
- Communicate openly. Create a culture of open sharing and vulnerability to strengthen trust between you and your employees. You want to create a safe space for your team
Employees are your most valuable asset, and are the literal lifeline of your business. Prioritizing their health and safety, both physically and mentally, is one of the key ways you can create a positive workplace dynamic for all.
After all, when your employees thrive, your business thrives.
If you missed it, be sure to check out a recording of our webinar “Remote Health and Safety and Home Ergonomics” including a Q&A with our Human Experience Team on implementing a health and safety plan for workers at home.