October is National Ergonomics Month – a designation observed annually. Ergonomics is defined as: the study of people’s efficiency in their work environment, and the science of refining the design of products to optimize them for use by humans. Although there are ergonomic issues associated with almost every occupation, office and computer work are often an area of focus, given the fact that people spend approximately one third of their lives (or 90,000 hours) working.
Our recent INDEAL Cares Employee Wellness Survey Report, which included input from thousands of people within the industry, found that 53% of respondents are currently suffering from spine or neck pain – a significant increase over a year ago when only 31% of individuals reported spine pain.
The Survey Report released last month; Working Well at Home and at the Office: Understanding Health and Well-being in the Commercial Furniture Industry, highlighted a number of important insights regarding health and well-being in the industry – including self-reported thoughts about mental health, active living, and spine health, as well as details on preferred work environment.
Spine Health Has Declined Over the Past Year
Even though individuals self-reported better mental health and physical health than the previous year, we saw a decline in spine health over the last year:
53% of respondents said they are currently experiencing back or neck pain, a significant increase over last years number of 31%;
67% of respondents confirmed that their back or neck pain has worsened since the start of the pandemic.
Spine Health is Better for People in the Office
The results published in the Survey Report indicated that spine health is better for people who are currently working in the office, with 44% of individuals in that demographic reporting that they had back or neck pain vs. 51% of individuals who had always worked from home, and 61% of individuals who had been working from home since the pandemic began.
And when asked the question: “Has your spine pain gotten worse since the pandemic began?” 47% of those who were working from home since the pandemic began said yes, compared to 24% of individuals who were working in an office and 35% of individuals who had always worked from home.
The Impact of Ergonomic Tools and Supports
As an industry, we know that investing in ergonomic tools and supports can positively impact well-being, and our survey results continue to build this case. This year’s Employee Wellness Survey found that only a small percentage of survey respondents who were working from home are using all available ergonomic tools. In fact:
10% of respondents confirmed that their employer had provided a stipend to pay for a specialist to ensure a proper ergonomic set up
25% confirmed that the space they are using at home includes a monitor arm
34% shared that their employer had provided a stipend for home office upgrades,
43% said that the space they were using at home included a height adjustable desk.
In recognition of National Ergonomic month – and considering the recent insights from our Survey Report - INDEAL Cares is urging individuals from the industry to make spine health a priority - for your colleagues, teams, and customers. As an industry that designs, produces, and sells ergonomic products, we have a responsibility to do all that we can to walk the talk – to make sure our people are all getting what they need in the way of spine health.
INDEAL Cares is pleased to offer some tips and tools to help you begin to have meaningful conversations with your team about their well-being – including ways to improve their spine health. Download the Living Well at Work Guide to learn more about what you can do to support a healthy work environment today, and feel free to reach out to INDEAL Cares to share questions, comments, and suggestions for additional resources.