Telecommuting is a fast-growing trend. Just consider your own work habits. Chances are, you have a laptop you can easily take home with you. You might even be reading this on the mobile phone you use to answer emails. With technological advances, working from almost anywhere is easy.

However, this doesn’t mean that working remotely is for everyone or that all of your clients’ employees have the proper in-home arrangements. Ergonomics is one of the most important aspects of any office setup and one of the most overlooked aspects of telecommuting.

If an employee doesn’t have a proper work environment in his or her home, or is attempting to work from another location such as a coffee shop, that employee could be putting himself or herself at risk for serious musculoskeletal issues. Consider an employee who works at his or her breakfast bar. A backless stool could cause the employee to lean and the too-high countertop may result in his or her shoulders to be positioned up toward their head. Sitting in this position, especially for prolonged periods of time, can be harmful.

To ensure a successful work-from-home initiative, here are a few ways your clients can help confirm an employee has the right work setup for his or her needs.

Evaluating proper ergonomics in the home

Just because an employee is out of sight, it doesn’t mean he or she should be out of mind. This is especially true in the case of proper ergonomics. Awkward, long-term static positions can result in neck, shoulder and back pain, possibly leading to a costly disability leave.

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"Help your clients effectively care for employees who aren’t in the traditional work environment, by creating a robust and efficient off-site workplace."

To help with an employee’s home workstation setup, your client can coordinate off-site assistance for a telecommuting employee in the following ways:

  • Work with resources, such as a vocational consultant, from your client’s disability carrier who can help make sure the right setup and accommodations for each employee are implemented properly.
  • Local third-party vendors can be dispatched wherever your employees are located to assess the home workspace.
  • For basic assistance, Occupational Safety & Health Administration has an online tool that can help employees create a safe and personalized workstation setup, while reinforcing proper mechanics.

Quick fixes for any workstation

No matter who is working with a client’s employees to help optimize their home workstations, there are numerous ergonomic considerations for every telework arrangement. Three of the most important include:

  • An ergonomic keyboard. Ergonomic keyboards vary in height, shape and splay to help a person achieve a neutral posture position and reduce tension on muscles.
  • Computer screen height. Maintaining proper distance from the computer and adjusting the height of the monitor can help reduce the likelihood of injury, such as shoulder pain and eye strain.
  • A proper-fitting chair. For employees who sit for the majority of their workday, a proper chair can help improve posture and reduce back strain.

Telecommuting is inevitable in today’s business environment. Help your clients effectively care for employees who aren’t in the traditional work environment, by creating a robust and efficient off-site workplace. A strong telecommuting program is about trust and accountability, and an ergonomic home workspace is a great place to start.

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