Almost a third of the country’s workforce operated from home during Alert Level 4 and now in Alert Level 1, many organisations are reviewing the long-term benefits of flexible and remote working environments for the health of their workers, says a leading Pacific physiotherapist.
Oka Sanerivi, a physiotherapy lecturer at Wintec in Gisborne and a member of the Pasifika Medical Association says that many organisations that were forced to make changes during lockdown are now maintaining some of the lockdown practices as they have proven to be effective both for the individuals and the organization.
“Most of the academic institutions and universities are still delivering online for the remainder of the year, there’s been a greater uptake and appreciation for zoom meetings, enabling people to connect remotely. Also in the same breath, there’s been a greater awareness around how taxing it can be to work from home and the impacts of sitting for long periods can be really draining for the person and the body.”
As more companies are offering flexible working conditions and offering a balance between working from home and in the office, Oka says it’s important that workers continue to take precautions and correctly set-up their stations at the office and at home to prevent any work related injuries like repetitive strain injury – a debilitating and painful condition caused by repetitive use of the joints or long periods sitting in a fixed position.
“The first thing to do is to ensure you have adequate lighting. That the screen is well-lit and visible. The next thing to do is focus on your posture. When you’re sitting at your computer, make sure your neck stays neutral, so it’s not pushed out and your shoulders and hips are aligned. It’s also important to take regular breaks”
Now that we’ve come out of lockdown, he says it’s important that we appreciate being social and enjoying other people’s company.
‘After being in lockdown and in isolation, people are increasingly aware just how great it is to be involved in the community, which impacts not only our emotional wellbeing but our physical health aswell.”
Samoan risk manager, Opera Monzari, who is a former commercial banker and now works for the Public Trust, has returned to her Auckland office after working from home during lockdown and admits to missing the social interaction with her colleagues. Like many companies, she has been given the flexibility to work from home and says there are many benefits to balancing this with time in the office as well.
“You still need that physical face-to-face connection, so in that perspective, going to work has been great. I like to come into the office, because in my role, engaging with my stakeholders is important and I choose to go to work to maintain that connection.”
Date: Wednesday 8 July 2020