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Handling ‘Tech Neck’ and Other Remote Work Problems

Handling ‘Tech Neck’ and Other Remote Work Problems

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By Susan Hoffman
Managing Editor

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies have adopted a remote work business model rather than risk the spread of the coronavirus around their staff and leaders. In some ways, this shift to remote work has benefitted some organizational leaders who were initially skeptical about their employees working anywhere other than a conventional office.

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For instance, remote work has shown company executives that their staff can be highly productive, regardless of where they work. Also, technology such as Zoom and GoToMeeting allows people to easily communicate with one another, reducing the need for in-person meetings and interviews.

Working from Home Can Lead to Physical Soreness

However, working from home has its physical drawbacks. In most homes, there are no long hallways or long flights of stairs to provide any exercise.

In addition, some household chairs and tables may not be at the right ergonomic height for remote work, forcing you to lean forward to see a computer screen. This problem also occurs when you constantly use a mobile device and slouch forward to see the screen.

As a result, computer and mobile device users suffer from “tech neck,” where the muscles of the neck and upper shoulders become strained from leaning forward to see a screen. Other physical problems include sore back muscles and leg cramps from prolonged sitting.

How to Relieve ‘Tech Neck’

Fortunately, it’s possible to relieve “tech neck” and other physical pain caused by working at home. To relieve the symptoms of “tech neck,” Dr. K. Daniel Riew of the NewYork-Presbyterian website HealthMatters recommends that you:

  • Use a chair that allows you to recline backward at least 25-30 degrees and has lumbar support.
  • Take regular breaks to get up and move around, even if it’s just for a few minutes.
  • Try to work standing up when possible.

Other options include performing stretches and raising the height of your computer monitor. These strategies can help to further alleviate muscle pain, especially in the neck and shoulders.

The Physical Benefits of Taking Breaks and Getting Regular Exercise

When you work remotely, it becomes all too easy to put in extra hours, which can lead to sore eyes and impaired blood circulation from prolonged sitting. To relieve sore eyes, try the 20-20-20 rule – for every 20 minutes you spend looking at a computer screen, spend 20 seconds looking at an object that is 20 feet away.

It’s also good to get regular exercise whenever you can fit it in – before work, during your lunch break, or after work. Consider a quick walk through your neighborhood, visit your local shopping mall or park, or find another location where you can safely exercise.

If you have young children, consider taking them on a short nature walk of 20 to 30 minutes. That walk could be in a park, around your backyard or through local woods. The important aspect is to be moving and to give your eyes a rest from a screen.

Exercise is also a useful way to lower stress, boost your immune system and improve your sleep. As this pandemic continues, it is important to continue following healthy habits, such as eating a nutritious diet, following a regular exercise program and taking time for self-care.

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