An unprecedented 18% of people now work remotely full time. Biotech — an industry that melds biology and engineering — has adjusted to the remote workspace and significantly shifted to remote work. A simple LinkedIn search for remote biotech jobs, for instance, offers hundreds of results.
Despite thousands of biotech employees working from home, they are not immune to ergonomic injuries common at an office or lab. Working from home can subject biotech employees to ergonomic injuries related to poor posture and overuse. Knowing the types of injuries remote biotech jobs can cause can help employees avoid them in the first place.
4 common injuries in remote biotech jobs
According to a survey taken in 2020, 41% of workers reported feeling significant increases in aches and pains since they started working from home. But pain, stiffness and injuries don’t have to be the norm. Here are four common symptoms that biotech remote workers should watch out for:
- Wrist pain — When using the keyboard or mouse pad frequently, wrist pain can be common. This is especially true for remote biotech workers who may spend long hours inputting, organizing or analyzing data for their job. One of the major culprits of hand/wrist pain while working is typing at awkward angles. If employees are working from a couch or bed, their hands might be awkwardly bent to accommodate the space. Typing in awkward positions like this over time can strain the finger joints and wrists. It can also lead to overuse injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome, or the compression of the median nerve in the hand. In general, biotech employees should try to keep their wrists in a relaxed, neutral and horizontal position while typing in order to avoid wrist pain. Aim for maintaining a straight line from elbow to fingertips while typing. Using a keyboard pad or even a rolled-up towel can assist with this.
- Poor posture — Remote biotech workers might be tempted to crane their neck closer to their screen when analyzing data or examining a diagram. However, slouching over a computer can cause both back and neck pain. For example, a study found a significant correlation between head posture and neck pain. This is because slouching curves the spine at an unnatural angle, restricting spine health and the tissue around it. It’s a good idea to use the computer when it’s eye level. It can also be beneficial to avoid placing the keyboard above elbow level while maintaining a straight spine while working.
- Chronic headaches — Staring at a screen for long periods of time can place immense strain on remote workers’ eyes. Consistent eye strain throughout the day can trigger headaches if not properly addressed. Depending on the brightness level on the screen and the type font, a remote employee’s eyes may be trying to process more than they can handle. To help prevent headaches related to computer usage, employees can try adjusting the brightness and glare on their screen. This can help limit the work their eyes need to do in order to focus on an image or body of text. Every employee should reduce eye fatigue by practicing the self-care 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, look 20 feet away, for 20 seconds.
- Fatigue — In addition to straining the eyes and causing headaches, staring at a screen for long periods of time can cause fatigue. Part of the reason for this is because screens can interrupt workers’ sleep cycles and therefore prevent well-restedness. The blue light emitted from screens can decrease feelings of sleepiness, since the body associates blue light with daytime. Blue light can also reduce the amount of time spent in REM sleep, a vital part of the sleep cycle. Some computer monitors come with customizable blue light filters to improve comfort. Wearing blue-light-filtering glasses can help block disruptive wavelengths and isolate essential light.
Work-Fit can help limit injuries in remote biotech jobs
Working remotely can increase workers’ risk of developing chronic pain and fatigue. Remote biotech jobs are no exception. Our team of educators and athletic trainers at Work-Fit can help you address your concerns while working remotely. We even offer virtual programs so that you can connect with us from the comfort of your home.
Contact our team today for more information about our services or to learn how we can help keep your employees and your business healthy!