Practical tips for teleworking

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected many companies, which have implemented work remotely as a solution to protect their employees from possible infections.

Remote work is a solution to keep business operational, however, from a personal point of view we are facing a challenge. COVID-19 shakes our routines, forcing us to get out of our states of physical and mental comfort.

In this publication we will talk about the benefits and disadvantages of remote work or teleworking and some practical advice from the European Occupational Safety and Health Agency (EU-OSHA) to do it in the healthiest, safest and most efficient way possible.


EU-OSHA defines teleworking as the use of information and communication technologies (ICT), such as smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktops, in order to work outside of the employer’s premises.

Similarly, EU-OSHA explains that teleworking offers many advantages to employers and workers, but it is possible that these advantages, depending on the specificities of the teleworking situation and its (lack or inadequate) management, can turn into disadvantages. , exposing workers to some (greater) occupational hazards.





·  improvement in work-life balance

·  Possibility of working, despite reduced mobility due to illness or disability

·  Reduction in commuting time and costs (and stress and fatigue related to transport)

·  Flexible schedules and more decision-making latitude to manage working time

·  Possible increase in autonomy at work.

·     The difficulty of separating paid work from private life

·     Isolation and a lack of access to the formal and informal information sharing that takes place in a fixed place of work

·     Changes in social working relationships (colleagues, management) because of distance

·     Long working hours (flexible schedules can become a drawback if the worker does not impose time limits)

·     Performing work outside regular business hours (during free time)

·     Being confronted with problems alone, without proper support (with the associated stress)

·     Developing musculoskeletal disorders if the ergonomic aspects related to ICT work are not managed properly (posture, inadequate computer workstations, etc.)


·  Improvement in work-life balance

·  Possibility of working, despite reduced mobility due to illness or disability

·  Reduction in commuting time and costs (and stress and fatigue related to transport)

·  Flexible schedules and more decision-making latitude to manage working time

·  Possible increase in autonomy at work

·  Increased OSH risks if (proper) risk assessments are not carried out

·  More difficult supervision for managers and a need to find new forms of management

·  Difficulties in providing the required support to teleworkers

·  Possible decrease in engagement and a drop in team spirit

·  Internal communication becoming more difficult.

Source: European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA)


EU-OSHA indicates that teleworking is associated with ergonomic hazards. Working with unsuitable equipment, an unsuitable workstation, and sedentary work are linked to problems such as: eye strain; musculoskeletal pain and disorders; stress; mental and cognitive workload; and the health effects related to lack of exercise and sedentary lifestyle.

According to EU-OSHA, an appropriate home-based work environment can include:

  • A room specially to work, and if this is not possible at least a space where the teleworker can work. This is important for several reasons:
    • Allows the teleworker to be visually and acoustically isolated, facilitating concentration and minimizing distractions.
    • Helps maintain a boundary between work and home life. It is a symbolic way of establishing a division between these two areas: leaving the room means leaving work.
  • Adequate lighting, thermal comfort, low noise and adequate ventilation. Proper lighting is important (including daylight) to perform tasks efficiently, accurately, and healthily.
  • Adequate internet connection and telephone lines (if necessary).
  • Periodic checks for defects in equipment and electrical wiring.
  • Ergonomic work furniture (adjustable, suitable for different tasks) that helps teleworkers to maintain a comfortable and neutral body posture with the joints naturally aligned, and to reduce stress and strain on the muscles, tendons and skeletal system.
  • Use of ergonomic information technology equipment (eg, adjustable display stand, short keyboard), which ensures a more comfortable posture while working with a display screen
  • Proper arrangement of work equipment components on the surface or desk to ensure a comfortable work position.
  • Ensure enough space in the workplace to allow the teleworker to have a comfortable position, change position and move.
  • Teleworkers should be trained in the correct techniques for adjusting work furniture and using a mouse and keyboard or other data input devices, and organizing the work area to ensure a comfortable and neutral work posture.

Additionally, EU-OSHA suggests that teleworkers and employers carry out the following activities:

  • When carrying out computer work, guarantee periodic interruptions through breaks and other activities that are not in front of the computer (to avoid eye fatigue and interrupt the prolonged session); short and frequent breaks are preferable; During breaks, the teleworker must leave the workplace, do relaxation exercises, etc.
  • Avoid eye strain by focusing on distant objects or blinking occasionally
  • Duties, expectations and deadlines must be clearly delineated and agreed upon by both the supervisor and the teleworker.
  • Use communication tools that allow teleworkers to inform managers / co-workers when they are ‘busy’, ‘available’, ‘not to be disturbed’, ie ‘busy’ when they need to focus on certain tasks, ‘available’ when they can be contacted, etc.
  • Ensure that work tasks are varied to avoid monotony.

Source: European Agency for Occupational Safety and Health (EU-OSHA)