Telecommuting has become increasingly popular among employers and employees. It can save some employers money and space, and can be an attractive option for employees seeking a more fulfilling work-life balance. Our own CEO is a “virtual executive,” working from various locations on the road or around HNI.
With this boom in employees working somewhere other than the corporate office, companies face a new problem: workplace safety for telecommuters. If an injury occurs in the course of an employee performing her job duties, even if at a home office, it is a compensable injury.
Ergonomic risks can be even more problematic for telecommuters. While this group is not inherently more prone to ergonomic injuries, but they may not be provided the same ergonomically-friendly equipment as employees inside a company’s four walls. In most cases, telecommuters are often left on their own when it comes to setting up their workstations.
Consider the following potential ergonomic concerns for telecommuters:
Telecommuters, like onsite employees, need a good chair, an external keyboard and mouse, and a monitor, in addition to a laptop or desktop computer. Then, they must be given guidance for how to set up their workstation for maximum ergonomic safety.
The best thing employers can do to mitigate the potential for injuries is establish a formal telecommuting policy upfront, and then provide for ongoing evaluation of offsite employee workstations.
Besides showing up at employees’ homes, there are a variety of less intrusive ways for employers to provide guidance/monitoring of ergonomic conditions for telecommuters. For example:
With telecommuting and “virtual workers” becoming more common, the ergonomic risks associated are something to keep in mind!