top of page
  • Richard Patricio

The Growing Health Issues From Working at Home

A picture of the head of a man wearing glasses

Richard Patricio is a Senior Ergonomics and Wellbeing Consultant at Wellworking. He has over 15-years’ experience of working with Organisations of all sizes to help their staff have the most productive working environment to prevent injuries and to promote excellent workplace wellbeing.


Long-term sickness has become a huge issue for the UK economy and organisations alike, with skilled and productive workers being taken out of the workforce – and it has only got worse since the start of the pandemic.

The Office for National Statistics has found that since 2019, more than half a million more people are off work with long-term sickness. Interestingly, 62,000 of this increase is people who reported problems or disabilities connected with the back or neck, the second largest reason cited for absence from work.

Having done thousands of home workstation assessments over the last couple of years, I think it is likely that a considerable proportion of those musculoskeletal issues are related to the lack of ergonomic support at home. Three years of employees hunched over their laptops on kitchen chairs or sofas are going to have an impact.

A woman sitting on a sofa with a laptop on her knee

A lot of organisations had assumed that the shift to home working would just be a temporary situation during the pandemic, whereas the reality is that it is here to stay. When the ONS asked workers in February this year about their future plans, more than 8 in 10 who had to work from home during the coronavirus pandemic said they planned to hybrid work going forward.

In October 2021 the HSE updated their guidance, stating; “As an employer, you have the same health and safety responsibilities for people working at home as for any other worker.”

In an office space, workers will probably have a good set up with a quality chair, a screen that can be adjusted to an appropriate height, and access to other accessories to make themselves comfortable. They are more likely to be prompted to take natural breaks within the office environment as a result of interactions with their colleagues. They also should have had relevant DSE training. With many workers now splitting their time between the office and home, employers have to make sure their staff are equally protected away from the workplace.

Consistently, I find the employers that are proactive in engaging with their home workers have better outcomes. Not only are they compliant with the HSE guidance but they have increased employee wellbeing and productivity.

A picture of an office chair and a desk with a laptop on a stand

In my experience, the reticence of employers to act typically comes down to two factors. The first is concerns over the costs related to supporting homeworkers, and the second is the lack of knowledge and experience around how best to support staff working from home.

There will undeniably be cost implications to support employees working from home, but these have to be contrasted against the costs of inaction: litigation, loss of productivity and reputational damage to name just a few. Looking after staff will also reap huge benefits around the retention of workers. They want to know that their employer cares about them wherever they are working.

I would argue that the earlier and more proactive an organisation is in managing their employees’ wellbeing at home, the lower the costs. As an example, one of the biggest risk factors to homeworkers is the fact that they are often hunched over their laptops. A simple solution would be to provide all homeworkers with a laptop riser, keyboard and mouse. This alone will allow employees to adopt a better posture when working from home and is very cost effective. We have produced some handy tips in this video to get you started with how to work well from home.

Providing basic equipment is of course only part of the solution. Workstation assessments for homeworkers are fundamental as with homeworking there is no ‘one size fits all’. Having a trained assessor review employees’ workstations at home, deliver training and give practical recommendations is the most effective way to ensure employees’ wellbeing when working from home.

Wellworking provide an end-to-end solution to allow organisations to support their homeworkers. We design a process that suits each client’s budget and the specific needs of their staff. We can handle the entire process all the way from arranging assessments to delivering and installing equipment at workers’ homes.

As a company, our mission is, “Everything about working well, wherever work is” and that is what drives us. Hybrid and home working is not going away. We want to make sure we do not see a further rise in these ONS statistics in the future.


You can browse our products to help you improve your own working environment or come and talk to me about your organisation. I would be very happy to chat through your needs and explain how we can assist.

Richard Patricio - Ergonomics and Wellbeing Consultant

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page