Ergonomic Hazards: The Toll Of Bad WFH Ergonomics

Why poor WFH ergonomics hurt your business.


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Last updated: 05th Jul 2024

ergonomic hazards

Last updated: 05th Jul 2024

Reading Time: 2 minutes

The University of Cincinnati conducted a study on the ergonomics of home office setups, titled “The Home Office: Ergonomic Lessons From the ‘New Normal'”.

What did they find?

Most people’s home office setups are horrible.

Slouching behind kitchen and coffee tables is the norm. Lounging on couches and beds is not uncommon, either.

The findings of this study, which surveyed the WFH habits of 843 employees, did not surprise us.

However, HR leaders responsible for designing and executing hybrid workplace strategies will want to sit up (ha) and take notice.

(Related: Complete Guide To WFH Ergonomics).

Most Dangerous WFH Ergonomic Failures.

The researchers, led by Dr. Kermit G. Davis, identified the following issues adversely affecting remote workers:

  • Offset external laptop monitors were causing neck strain.
  • Laptop screens were too low, causing incorrect sitting posture.
  • Many home office chairs were the wrong height, with 41% being too low.
  • 53% of workers had armrests, but 32% didn’t use them, and 18% adjusted them improperly.
  • Laptop keyboards were too pokey, leading to potential wrist issues.
  • Injuries from tripping or falling hazards are likely.
  • 69% of participants did not use the back support of their chairs, and 73% lacked lumbar support.


Less than 10% of employees had proper ergonomic setups at home that included a standing desk and/or an ergonomic office chair.

Remove the incidental exercise that employees engage in at a commercial office, and you have sedentary employees sitting in uncomfortable positions for long periods of time.

What Are The Legal Risks Of Poor WFH Ergonomics?

The appalling WFH conditions for millions of Australian employees may soon be a nightmare for HR.

Australia set model WHS laws that apply to all remote and hybrid employees, mandating employers to eliminate or minimise health and safety risks.

Failure to do so can trigger Workers Compensation claims.

How Can HR Leaders Address The Risks?

Roughly 41% of full-time jobs in Australia can be done from home, according to Deakin University. 64% of those would prefer a hybrid arrangement.

While Australians continue to disagree about the exact number of hours in an ideal hybrid role, the workplace has clearly evolved. Most Australians expect to work from home at least part of their workweek.

HR leaders can support remote staff with the following:

Ergonomic InitiativeBudget
Ergonomic chair and standing desk allowance.$500-$800 per ergonomic chair, $500-$1200 per standing desk.
Coworking space allowance.$450-$650/month per part-time hot desk.
Webinar sessions on WFH ergonomics.$5,000-$10,000 to design and roll out the program.

Reimbursing employees for upgrades to their WFH furniture and equipment is the most effective yet capital-intensive option.

We encourage leaders to weigh these costs up against productivity losses that stem from injured, uncomfortable and neglected employees.


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