Webinar Series - Supporting Remote Office Work, Pivoting Back to the Workplace During a Pandemic, and the Future of Virtual Workspaces

Monday, October 4, 2021 1:00 pm - Tuesday, November 30, 2021 11:00 am EDT (GMT -04:00)

Webinar series

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced a rapid change in the way we work and the need to support workers at the office and at home. Adjustments have been made including work hours, equipment, physical space layout and work format, be it virtual or masked in-person. The temporary remote work instituted in March of 2020 resulted in using makeshift workstations at kitchen counters, spare bedrooms, and living rooms, a situation that continues for many to persist over 1.5 years later.

Join CRE-MSD, IHSA, PSHSA, WSPS, and OHCOW during Global Ergonomics Month in October for this free webinar series featuring six international experts. The series will explore flexible/hybrid office environments and returning to on-site office workspaces, how these can be supported, the impact on health, moving beyond the constraints of individual productivity, and a look at what a true “virtual” workspace will look like in the future.

This five-part webinar series will examine research on how pivoting imposed by COVID-19 health hazards has impacted workers and challenged the health and safety support system’s ability to ensure ‘work shouldn’t hurt’. It will assist organizations to learn about and help prevent physical, cognitive and psychological challenges related to remote work practices implemented during COVID-19.

Webinar schedule

Webinar 1

Insights From Working From Home During the COVID-19 Pandemic May Provide a Starting Place for a Healthier Working Future
Dr. Kermit Davis & Dr. Susan Kotowski

Date: October 4, 2021
Time: 1:00 - 2:00 PM EDT
Cost: Free

Many individuals shifted to a work-from-home situation in the Spring of 2020 and have remained there almost 18 months later. Further, many are expected to remain working at home into the near future, and potentially permanently. Several survey-based and observational studies have been conducted during the pandemic that may provide insights into the future of work-from-home.

Most individuals have been sent home with laptops without any other accessories such as external keyboards, monitors or a mouse. Findings show laptop use is very prevalent and prolonged, and that workers are commonly utilizing non-optional chairs. These behaviors have resulted in high levels of body discomfort (reports of moderate to severe pain by 49% of respondents for the neck and head, 45% for low back, and 62% for upper back and shoulders). If workers are going to continue to work-from-home, companies will need to accommodate them with more than a laptop, including other equipment such as an external keyboard, monitor, and mouse, along with both ergonomics education and a workstation evaluation.

Webinar 2

Work From Home and Beyond: A Holistic Approach to Addressing Technology, Ergonomic, and Organizational Factors
Dr. Michelle Robertson

Date: October 15, 2021
Time: 12:00 - 1:00 PM EDT
Cost: Free

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, an abrupt shift in the nature of work systems across the globe has occurred with a dramatic increase in the number of people who are working remotely from their homes. Work From Home (WFH) is the “new way of working,” in which employees’ homes have become their workplaces. Going forward, as the re-opening of office workplaces is being considered, the planning and design of these alternative and new flexible/hybrid office environments is occurring. Attention to human factors/ergonomics (HF/E) issues from both micro- (individual workers) and macro- (organization and environment) perspectives is essential to support and protect workers, to ensure worker wellbeing and performance, and to achieve the benefits of these new work arrangements.

In this webinar, Dr. Robertson will present a work systems perspective to consider in the creation and design of these new office work styles, such as telework programs and hybrid work arrangements. She will also discuss her telework research and provide valuable key recommendations to consider when managing the safety, wellbeing and performance of workers in these challenging times.

Webinar 3

Expanding the Bounds of Seated Virtual Workspaces
Dr. Mark McGill

Date: October 27, 2021
Time: 12:00 - 1:00 PM EDT
Cost: Free

For the past year and a half, working from home has become the norm for many. This shift has provided a stronger focus on virtual workspaces and equipment. Virtual and Augmented Reality (VR/AR) headsets are increasingly moving towards consumer-friendly, everyday wearable form factors. Their eventual adoption offers the possibility of transforming how we work – in the office, at home, and on-the-move - capable of both supplementing, and in-time entirely supplanting, physical displays in lieu of rendering virtual spatial interfaces.

This webinar will explore some of the key benefits that virtual workspaces offer, both for ergonomics and usability in seated productivity generally, and how we might move beyond the existing constraints of the individual experience of productivity.

Webinar 4

A New Way Forward for the Prevention and Management of Discomfort in Office Personnel: Learnings From Across the Globe
Dr. Venerina Johnston

Date: November 17, 2021
Time: 4:00 - 5:00 PM EST
Cost: Free

The office work environment is changing. These changes challenge what, and how health and safety information is delivered. This webinar will present results of several studies that investigated the physical and psychosocial risk factors for physical health in office workers in a traditional office environment and while working from home during the pandemic. This will be followed by a discussion of interventions to prevent and reduce the risk of discomfort experienced for those using a traditional office workstation and those transitioning to height adjustable workstations. 

Webinar 5

Transitioning Out of the Pandemic: Expected Work Environment Challenges and Opportunities in a Hybrid Work Era
Dr. Maral Babapour

Date: November 30, 2021
Time: 10:00 - 11:00 AM EST
Cost: Free

The pandemic has revolutionized the paradigm of office work and how we think about remote work and employees’ workplace needs. Post-pandemic workplace strategies vary, with some organizations attempting to bring employees back to on-site office work, others continuing remote work as a new standard, and some choosing a blend of both referred to as the hybrid approach. 

What employees perceive as expected consequences of different extents of remote work in this hybrid work era will be explored. This webinar examines perceived and expected challenges and opportunities, based on focus group discussions conducted with public service employees in Sweden. The takeaways will have relevance for staff managers and employees, ergonomists and human factors experts, and others including workplace designers, architects, and facility and corporate real estate managers.

Disclaimer: CRE-MSD receives funding through a grant provided by the Ontario Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development (MLTSD). The views expressed are those of the presenters and do not necessarily reflect those of the Centre nor of the Province of Ontario.