The need for MSI programs has never been more clear. Adjusting furniture isn’t the only way to protect employees – we need to revive company culture.
As the honeymoon phase of the home office era comes to a close, a grim reality is emerging: our employees are in trouble. Recent studies show that more than 50 per cent of computer-using workers develop MSI (musculoskeletal) symptoms and discomforts within their first year on the job. For home office workers this rises to a staggering 80 per cent.
MSI Programs Can Resurrect Your Company Culture
But why is that? And, how do we turn this trend around when more people are working remotely than ever before?
Now that the dust is settling (kind of), we can’t lose sight of the idea that one of the best ways an organization can help itself is to help its employees.
In recent years, we’ve made huge gains in workplace wellness. Most employees are now used to feeling healthy and comfortable at work, which in turns leads to boosted productivity and major cost savings for the organization.
Part of the reason this has been so successful is that wellness has become a major component of company culture. In the office, employers provide tools, support, and equipment to all, but the same isn’t being provided to remote workers, largely due to the fast transition.
MSI programs are a focused way to deliver these resources while showing support for employees and bringing company culture back.
In fact, culture has taken a huge hit during the pandemic. Moreover, it’s not just poor workstation setup or manual labour that cause musculoskeletal injuries. Psychological experiences, like stress, isolation, and disillusionment, are major risk factors as well.
Using Wellness to Drive Company Culture
Let’s start with social distancing (also known as physical distancing, which we prefer). Most of us have adapted to working and going about our lives while staying two meters away from others.
But this adaptation generally involves cutting important, and necessary, activities out of our lives. Many people have lost their main sources of movement and, with them, major parts of their social circles.
No soccer teams, no running clubs, no photography groups, and a whole lot of time cooped up in your home office.
What does this have to do with MSI programs? Well, healthy levels of movement outside of work offset those sedentary days spent at our workstations with less than ideal postures.
Getting less physical activity is just one factor – along with loss of work-home life separation, home schooling, and poor workstation setup – that is leading to higher stress levels. This, in turn, increases inflammation, a major MSI symptom.
The most effective approach is to build an MSI program into your overall wellness initiatives. As stress goes up, movement levels go down, and colleagues start to feel more isolated from each other, productivity decreases, further harming already struggling businesses.
Using Ergonomics to Drive Your MSI Program
Furthermore, as someone’s mental wellness takes a downturn, so does their capacity for innovation and engagement with their work.
A wellness initiative can take this on at the same time as protecting employees from MSIs. As a society, we’re currently rethinking how to keep our company cultures and team cohesion alive. And movement needs to become a core component of those cultures, particularly while people’s options for activity outside of work are so limited.
Done right, people can keep loving their jobs. Done poorly and work becomes a chore to do in between tending to family matters.
This is a long term project to be sure, but there is something that can and needs to be addressed immediately: equipment and furniture.
People don’t often adopt poor posture by choice. Their equipment is either the wrong size or improperly adjusted.
Ergonomically set up equipment is a decisive factor in any MSI program and, right now, many home offices have a failing grade.
First off, workers need the same opportunity to do their job as before they started working from home.
Not only does this show a commitment to supporting employees no matter where they work, it also shows them that their health is a priority and an integral part of the company’s success.
MSI Programs are Part of Successful Company Culture
No one can be faulted for sending their employees home as fast as possible at the beginning of the pandemic. This was in itself a demonstration of prioritizing health and wellness at work. But it’s now time to provide equipment or stipends to employees to get themselves in a comfortable home office.
Putting this off can have devastating consequences, ranging from lost productivity to mental wellness problems to emergency room visits.
Unfortunately getting employees the equipment is only half the battle. You then need an ergonomist to assist with proper set up.
The most ergonomically sound chair is still dangerous to the oblivious occupant if incorrectly used.
Effective MSI programs incorporate ergonomics into company culture, making health and wellness a vehicle for productivity, growth, innovation, and success.
That’s why we offer a range of ergonomic services: virtual and in-person assessments, online education, and job coaching.
Whether you want to develop a fully-fledged MSI program, need a home office assessment, or just need to talk to an expert for a few minutes to get some ergonomic advice, we have a variety of customizable services that will help you land on your feet during this transitional moment.
EWI Works offers many services that can improve your quality of life. We have developed several cost-effective remote services to help you transition to remote work. Find out more about our Online Training, Services, and Resources.