Many questions and concerns have been raised by employers during the COVID-19 pandemic, including how to remain in business, maintain productivity and yet promote safety for their employees. Many businesses have risen to the occasion and developed innovative solutions to continue operating during this unfortunate pandemic, with each industry facing its own unique challenges. Probably the most widely utilized tactic by employers across all industries, though, is to allow or require their employees to work from home.
Prior to the pandemic, working from home had already been a growing trend in the United States. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of 2019, approximately 24% of employed people have reportedly worked at home in some capacity. The statistics relative to the increase in working from home since the start of COVID-19 vary by source; however, one thing is certain—the number of individuals working from home has dramatically increased. Working from home during COVID-19 poses additional challenges for many employees as compared to the traditional work-from-home day before COVID-19. Many employees who have never worked from home have been suddenly thrust unexpectedly into it and are working without dedicated workspaces. Instead, workstations may have been cobbled together at the dining room table, living room couches, bedrooms and basements. Even if an employee has access to a dedicated workspace, that workspace may also be shared with a spouse or partner. These awkward or nontraditional workspaces, with poor ergonomics, could lead to an increase in cumulative trauma injury claims. Additional challenges exist for employees with children, as many schools, summer camps and daycares remain closed or limited. Numerous employees now find themselves fulfilling the role of a full-time teacher and caretaker, in addition to their normal full-time job. This has undoubtedly led to an increase in breaks and departures from work.
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