Home working during the Covid-19 pandemic has left a musculoskeletal legacy for many workers, with one health provider reporting a 50% jump in virtual physiotherapy appointments this year.
The figures from Unum suggest that, even with working from home guidance having now ended as Covid restrictions have eased, home working may have left many workers with stored-up joint and ligament problems.
The data, which came through Unum’s Help@hand health and wellbeing app, showed that, as well as the 50% jump in digital physio appointments booked via the app at start of 2022, two in five of these appointments were for back, neck and shoulder problems. Unum said it had also seen the app being downloaded more than 3,000 times.
As well as the physical toll of the pandemic, it was clear there was also a continuing mental health cost, Unum highlighted.
Mental health appointments had increased by 27% between December 2021 and January 2022, with more men now seeking mental health support, especially within the 26-35 age group.
Home working and MSKs
Glenn Thompson, chief distribution officer for Unum UK, said: “Musculoskeletal concerns are costly for employers, accounting for 15% of all sickness absences in the UK— more than absences caused by Covid-19.
“Working from home during the pandemic may have exacerbated these issues for workers without the ergonomic setups they’d have in the office and furniture or equipment ill-matched to their needs.
“Even those with good setups may find working from home leads to fewer breaks or less exercise they’d normally do on the daily commute, which itself can trigger musculoskeletal pain,” he added.