Though the Irish government has announced that office workers will return on a phased basis from 20th September 2021, many employees and employers would like to continue remote working to some degree. One important way to support remote working and hybrid working employees is to ensure that employee wellbeing is a priority.

Remote working

A new survey by Morgan McKinley found that 90% of employees surveyed want to be able to work from home, whether a mix of remote and on-site working, or to work solely from home. This aligns with employers’ positions, with 90% of employers reporting their intention to extend working from home schemes post-pandemic and 64% would like to do so through the introduction of a mix of on-site and remote working.

But even though there are many benefits to remote working, there are also many challenges. Two of the biggest challenges are too much time sitting at a desk and too much time looking at a screen.

Health implications of working at a desk

For a lot of people, sitting is a necessary part of their working day. It often starts off being quite comfortable, but too much sitting can have a negative effect on the body – and if the body is not feeling ok, the mind can suffer too.

Remote working can mean even less movement than when previously based in an office as there is often no opportunity to go to a meeting in a different room or building, or to go to talk to a colleague at a different desk or area. Inactivity during the day can make people feel less comfortable in themselves.

Working at a computer can put strain on the upper body, neck, shoulders and arms. We often spend time hunched over our mobile devices, and when this is combined with working at a desk with infrequent breaks, the periods spent with our spine out of alignment has increased. This can contribute to poor posture and often leads to back ache and discomfort, while the sitting position can also cause tightness and inflexibility in the hips and legs.

Coupled with that, looking at a screen without frequent breaks can lead to eye strain and headaches.

Workplace Yoga

It’s not all bad news. Yoga can help support employees with the challenges of remote working. Yoga has a broad range of evidence-backed benefits, many of which can help to prevent or alleviate the negative impact that working at a desk and in front of a screen can have for people. Yoga stretches combined with breathing are particularly beneficial as people will often feel more productive when the body isn’t tense.

A few ways that can help remote working employees:

Offering online yoga classes can help companies ensure employee wellbeing is a priority and to support remote working employees in their workplace. Classes can be tailored to suit business needs, and can be done in a chair to cater for various levels of mobility and flexibility, with no special equipment or special clothing needed. The focus on breathing exercises helps to calm and focus the mind, and the yoga stretches help to release tension in the back, shoulders and neck, helping people to feel physically and mentally better overall.

The sessions can be done at any time of day that suits the business – mornings to get the day off to a good start, lunchtimes or afternoons to take a break from work, or evenings to clear the head after a busy day. Sessions are usually 30-50 minutes depending on what suits the business best.