Working from home could cause aches and pains, experts weigh in on solutions

Local News

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — While there are certain comforts in working from home, it could be causing you pain.

“They may still sit on the couch and in and while they’re working either on the laptop or they may send it if you know what that the kitchen table but they’re not sitting actually properly so we do see more problems with neck and back pain enter.”

According to Busch, that pain can be felt in the arms and hands as well. For those spending extended time on technology devices, there could be long-term side effects on your body.

“They’re looking at their cell phones all the time and they’re starting to develop what people are calling texting neck because they’re doing that continuously and that reinforces in the muscles in the ligaments and in the nerves of that positioning where we start to see developmental changes,” said Busch. “Instead of having three curves in your spine, we start to see those curves straightening out.”

“Texting neck” is an issue because the head is meant to balance in between the shoulders and if the neck starts to curve down, it can cause more stress and strain on the muscles in that area. Busch said the problems can often be solved by little changes, like putting a pillow behind your back or taking breaks to walk around. He also recommends making sure you have a workstation that allows your chair and keyboard to be at the proper heights, as well as looking into different shapes of computer mice.

“If we can sit properly, if we can make sure that we’re actually not sitting on the couch while we’re on our computer if we’re making sure that we’re doing some of the things that we don’t even think about; getting up, walking around, making sure we’re taking proper breaks as opposed to just kind of working through the day while you’re sitting improperly,” said Busch. “Also things like light exercise. Just doing some stretching exercises will help in a lot of cases.”

Some companies, like Fort Wayne’s Highmark Tech Systems and YOURspace, have their sights set on larger-scale solutions, like home office pods.

“[It is] Meant to be in a home office for everybody now working from home that doesn’t have a better place to get anything done with your working on the kitchen at the kitchen table, sharing base with teenagers or grade-schoolers or even your spouse or roommate or whatever might be,” said YOURspace founder and CEO David Faust.

With a wide variety of people working and learning from home, the pods can be customizable to fit the need. The interior and exterior paneling can be swapped out, the buyer can make the call on how many shelves are included or what the desk setup looks like. Other amenities like dry erase boards and chalkboards can also be added to the inside and outside of the pod.

Highmark Tech Solutions has a history of finding structural solutions for exhibits and events. As the pandemic saw the cancellation of many in-person events, they were approached by Faust and found a new pandemic venture that would allow their company to keep employees on the payroll.

“Highmark Tech Systems has been in Fort Wayne, Indiana for over 20 years and we are not about to let the pandemic bring us down even though the main market we sell into is basically at a halt at the moment,” said Debbie Parrott, President, and CEO of Highmark. “In looking at opportunities to keep employees employed and keep the business productive, this one, in particular, selling into a marketplace that actually is vibrant and there’s a real need, this is a particularly interesting pivot opportunity for Highmark.”

The materials that construct the pods sit in the Highmark warehouse until an order comes in. Standard units and units with customization can be assembled and ready to go within a week or two.

According to Faust, while the pods were designed for people working from home they have also attracted the attention of companies look for unique business space solutions.

“We see where these can be utilized to give somebody, otherwise they’re sitting with ten or 15 people on an open floor concept, in a cubicle, whatever, but they are now allowed to go into these pods and make a phone call or have an interview, have a little bit of privacy,” said Faust.

He also pointed to their potential as business spaces in spaces like airports and hotels. Faust believes that because of this, the interest in pod solutions will continue past the pandemic.

“It might not be as severe as it is now where you’ve got 100 percent of people working from home. It might be more of a hybrid, it might be a portion, but what I think what people have realized is as resistant as they’ve been to doing virtual meetings and video conferencing and whatnot, it actually works and it also saves businesses money; travel, real estate, whatever the case might be,” said Faust.

Busch agrees that some businesses will likely choose to have some employees work from home going forward, which could lead to a general increase in cases of joint or muscle pains and headaches.

“These are changes that are actually going to change society, I think, in a lot of ways,” said Busch. “It becomes one of those things where this is truly changing the way that we interact with people and it is very important to understand the difference in lighting, the difference in fluorescents, the natural lights, they are actually better on your eyes in a lot of cases than the fluorescents. So, those are all things that we can take into consideration as we’re starting to plan for the future and plan our workspaces.”

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