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Ergonomics in the age of the Virtual Meeting

Written by Nichola Adams, Founder of Inspired Ergonomics

With everything now taking place on-line, from in-house and external meetings, to conferences, in addition to our day to day emails, we are now spending an ever increasing number of hours on our computers. Whilst we would naturally have movement and work breaks incorporated into our working day, with the need to travel to the meeting, our whole day can, theoretically, now be spent at our computer.

There are some wonderful tools now that enable us to connect with others, no matter where they are based. In addition to all of the online meeting tools, there are now platforms like Remo and others, mimicking the conference experience, with hang out rooms and a choice of speaker sections. It is an exciting new world to be part of, breaking down barriers of location, both nationally and internationally. It is certainly changing my world as I can be having a meeting with someone in London, and then the next call will be with a client in New York, for instance.  

However, many of my clients are reporting as many as 6-7 meetings in one day, with the evolution of the back to back Zoom meetings. It would simply not be possible, in the physical world, to go from one meeting, directly into the other, and yet this is exactly how these are being scheduled in the online world. People are reporting how intense work has become.  As well as the extended working hours staff are putting in (as they no longer have the commute), there are little scheduled breaks between meetings. Scheduling breaks in between online meetings is essential, not only for the body (it needs regular movement to stay healthy), but for the mind too. I suspect the combination of these back to back meetings, together with the feeling of being lucky to be employed, is creating that intense feeling that is also being reported. There’s also very limited chance of the work being interrupted, often happily, from interactions with colleagues, although family and/or flatmates may be a welcome exchange!  Carving out a balance between home and working life is also more challenging when your home has become your workplace.

We now seem to be paying the price of the increased computer work time and reduction in movement breaks with our physical and mental health.   During the 100’s of assessments I have conducted, and the workshops hosted, I have witnessed a number of potential impacts on our human bodies, which are affecting our wellbeing.

Thankfully our bodies are very bioplastic, so we can quickly reverse the negative side effects these are causing. An ergonomic assessment will assess what is causing the issue, be it shoulder, neck, wrist or back pain, or even eye fatigue, and create some often simple, but highly effective changes that will greatly reduce your risk of developing a musculoskeletal disorder, or help prevent pain from occurring in the first place. However, it is essential to address these issues early on, and the longer they carry on for, the longer the recovery process.  Building regular movement into your day is also key.

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