Working from home during corona: pros and cons

In recent years, the offices have been rapidly furnished with sit-stand desks and other tools to enable people to work healthily. Due to corona many people have now been forced to work. Working from home has its advantages and disadvantages.

In the spring of 2020, we conducted a survey among more than a hundred homeworkers. This random group of homeworkers was asked about the pros and cons of working from home. They were asked about the design of the workplace, the presence of work-related complaints, productivity and break behaviour. This always involved a comparison between working from home and working at the office.


People see both advantages and disadvantages of working from home

Working from home brings several advantages. The survey showed that respondents see the lack of travel time as the biggest benefit of working from home. They also experience more flexibility and freedom to organise their working day. Many respondents experience more peace and quiet at home and less distractions (especially from colleagues). Finally, they said they experienced more safety at home because of the coronavirus.

Unfortunately, however, there are also disadvantages to working from home. The study shows that many respondents are distracted at home during the working day (especially those with children). They also see a disadvantage in the fact that there are fewer social contacts with colleagues. Discussing face-to-face or catching up together during a break is not an option at the moment. Finally, a major disadvantage is that the workplace at home is not ergonomically designed.


More than 40 percent are more productive at home than in the office

More than 40 percent of the respondents said they were more productive at home than in the office, while 27 per cent said they were more productive in the office. The rest of those surveyed experienced no difference at all.


More flexibility and freedom at home, but fewer breaks

Most respondents said they experienced more flexibility and freedom at home. However, the survey showed that, on average, people take fewer breaks at home during the working day than in the office.

Both in the office and at home, only 50 per cent take a lunch break. Employees also take few micro-breaks. These are the short vital breaks (micro breaks) needed to keep the body's blood flow going. This applies both to working at home and in the office. Only 5 percent of the respondents take a short break every 10 minutes to change their posture for a while.


More physical complaints at home

The results do not lie: more than 24 percent of the respondents said that they had regular to always work-related physical complaints at home: in the neck, shoulders, back, arms, wrists, hands or had headaches. While in the office this is less than 9 percent! The group of homeworkers without complaints is only 20 percent.


Still little attention to ergonomics at the home workplace

When asked about furniture and tools at home, only 3.5 percent of respondents had their monitor at eye level. This means that almost everyone keeps their head in an unnatural position while working at home. Constantly looking down can be very stressful for the neck and can cause neck complaints or headaches.

Most respondents indicated that the office workplace is better equipped than the home workplace. For example, less than 50% have an adjustable office chair at home, while almost 85% have a good chair in the office.

In response to the question "What is lacking in order to be able to work properly (ergonomically) at home?", most respondents said they wanted ergonomic furniture for working at home. Many respondents also see a monitor raiser (such as a laptop stand) as a necessary addition to the home workplace.


Healthy working with an ergonomic home workplace

The research shows that people experience significantly more physical complaints now that they are working from home. In particular, the lack of an ergonomic workplace plays an important role in this. An ergonomically designed workplace stimulates people to naturally adapt a good working posture and thus helps them to work healthily.


Tips for healthy working at home

Making the best of it and still working healthily at home? These 5 tips will take you a long way.

1.             Support your body

Make use of the whole seat of the chair, with your back supported by the backrest. Let your forearms support while your shoulders are relaxed. Rest your forearms on the armrests of the chair or on the desktop, while your shoulders are relaxed.

2.            Work in an upright position

Place the screen straight in front of your body and set the top of the screen at eye level. Use a laptop raiser and place paper documents between your keyboard and screen.

3.            Try to avoid reaching

Place the keyboard and mouse close to your body and also put the phone within easy reach.

4.            Avoid small repetitive movements

Typing is healthier than mouse usage, so use as many keyboard shortcuts as possible. Move the mouse from the whole arm instead of the wrist. Use a separate keyboard and mouse when working with the laptop.

5.            Ensure relaxation and sufficient movement

Limit the number of hours of screen work and take regular (micro) breaks. It is recommended to change your posture every 10 minutes and relax/stretch your muscles. Regularly alternate sitting with standing and walking.


This study was published on 24 April 2020 on the website of Arbo online 

Tags: ergonomics, work from home, ergonomic workplace