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Friday, May 24, 2024

Errrr…. gonomics

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The United States Census Bureau reported over 128 million full-time employees in the US in 2019, with some working from home. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics says people working a portion or all of their hours from home increased from 19 percent in 2003 to 24 percent in 2015.

While many occupations (e.g., manufacturing, construction, and warehousing) were less likely to work from home, 38 percent of management, business, and financial operations and 35 percent of professional workers worked from home at least partially (Thomas et al., 2021).

In the Philippines, it has been discovered that Filipino workers want more flexibility in how they work. Cisco, a global tech firm, found that 66 percent of employees want to travel less, and 83 percent incorporate more exercise in their daily routine (Cisco, 2021). This, undoubtedly, impacts businesses to provide strategies that can help employees with the challenges they face due to remote working.

Remote work, work from home, virtual work, or telecommuting (hereafter referred to as telework), developed in the 1970s, covers various work strategies that involve the use of information and communication technologies such as desktop computers, laptops, tablets, or smartphones for work that is completed outside of the employer’s buildings. Telework has traditionally allowed workers to save time and money on commuting. Still, in the current environment, its value is also reducing the risks associated with employees congregating at work during the ongoing pandemic.

Following the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States, the Philippines and several other countries declared health emergencies, allowing all associated with the quarantine policy to remain at home. As a result of these policies, many workers were compelled to make the abrupt transition to working from home. Millions of people transitioned to working from home.

Fortunately, I continue to benefit from the work-from-home arrangement. I’ve been in a situation where I wake up at 4 a.m. to avoid being late for work, and I get home around 10 to 11 p.m. Moreover, the talk of Dr. Alma Jennifer Gutierrez, a Southeast Asian Network of Ergonomics Societies (SEANES) Educator Awardee and a Full Professor of the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering at De La Salle University, provided me with insights into the benefits and drawbacks of working from home. She said the lack of ergonomic office furniture at home harms employees’ posture and concentration, affecting work efficiency.

Luckily, employees are each given P12,000 to spend on items that they can use for work from home in our company. This amount is reimbursable, and the items purchased are no longer required to be returned to the company as long as the employee remains with the firm for at least one year. In my case, I purchased an office chair with adjustable features to allow me to work at an appropriate height to avoid lumbar and neck discomfort. As I have observed, it promotes better wrist alignment avoiding impingement or carpal tunnel stress.

Indeed, many people across the country wish they could trade their home comforts for those in the office due to the COVID-19 outbreak, which has resulted in new work-from-home and distance learning routines.

In the end, our homes are our sanctuaries, designed for our comfort. However, we can take steps to adhere to ergonomic principles to ensure our continued well-being.

The author is an MBA student at the Ramon V. del Rosario College of Business, DLSU. He can be reached at  bryan_antido@dlsu.edu.ph.

The views expressed above are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official position of DLSU, its faculty, and its administrators.

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