An unhealthy workplace is a danger for office workers and as web developers, we must watch out as they pose a serious risk to our health.
If you know me well, you know that I have always been very active, practised lots of sports, competitive swimming since I was 5, BMX freestyle for ten years, gym and lots of exercises, in 2013 I sold my van and car so now I only get around in push-bike.
However, things can change in less than a year if you are not lucky enough to work in the right place and environment or have a strong body like mine😎
I am a Full-stack developer (these are some of my services in case you are interested in working together).
I strongly prefer to work remotely as I can control the environment where I work and make sure it’s safe for me. And that is a good idea given the recent study that has shown what could look like our future workmate in 20 years’ time if we continue working in old fashion offices, entirely badly planned, with poor posture and inadequately set-up workstations. They named her Emma.
How can we recognize an unhealthy workplace?
😷 There are a few things that can look for to identify unhealthy workplaces and they should trigger an alert.
- Poorly designed workstations and office space (cheap workstations, desks, seats, monitors, are the easiest to spot). Despite in the UK that is regulated with a clear law, the health and safety law, the majority of the companies, unfortunately, do not pay much attention to it and even avoid to carry on a basic but yet fundamental DSE (display screen equipment).
- Excessive workload.
- Lack of management.
- Lack of employees.
- Pay under the industry average.
One of the most dangerous things in the workplace is the chair 🪑
In Britain, we spend almost 8 years of our life sitting down.Fellowes Brands
Unhealthy Workplace | What can be the result of working in such a bad environment?
- Musculoskeletal issues (neck, back pain).
- Repetitive stress injuries (funny elbow).
- Legs swelling.
- Red, dry eyes.
- Sleep disorders.
- Mental health problems (anxiety, depression).
In the UK it seems an emergency as many businesses have an outdated approach and offices. A severe lack of management leads to employees exploitation until they get sick because of the unhealthy workplaces where they have to work.
In the USA for instance, companies in the tech industry seem to show much more care for their employees and office setup making sure they are working in a safe environment and they maximise productivity.
Unhealthy Workplace | Ten things that businesses in the UK should do (eleven actually):
- Reduce workload ( avoiding exploitation of a single employee to cover multiple roles).
- Stick to the Industry average salaries.
- Improve work environment, (well designed, ergonomic workstations, avoiding open spaces to improve productivity).
- Breaks policy (office workers need to take breaks frequently – if overloaded that won’t happen).
- Improve Management approach (well-trained managers can make a big difference).
- Improve Directorship (dishonest and unreliable persons can not lead a business as they put profit over employees health).
- Offer private health care insurance.
- Paid sick leave.
- Offer gym memberships for employees.
- Improve time off policy.
- Consider remote working.
When things go wrong it’s the employer to blame as he dictates rhythms, environment and terms of employment. It’s their responsibility to make sure to create a safe work environment and not push employees to work in an unhealthy workplace.
Unhealthy Workplace | Reduce Workload
🤯 When a company relay on a few or a single employee to cover multiple roles it’s a clear alert, the best thing is to avoid those companies as they have a limited budget and can’t afford to hire a team of people to the job so they overload the workforce and want someone that knows everything like it was an entire department.
Advertisements like that should trigger an alert immediately.
- – PHP 7, MYSQL, NGINX, APACHE
- – Laravel, Symphony or other frameworks
- – WordPress, Drupal, Joomla
- – Magento, WooCommerce or other
- – Vuejs, Angular, Typescript, or other frameworks
- – Photoshop, illustrator, Adobe suite
- – Web design
- – Amazon AWS, Google Clour Platform
- – DevOps, CI/CD, TDD
- – Jenkins, Circle CI, Trevis
- – Git, GitHub and other SVN
- – Rest API
- – Mobile Apps development
- – C#, C++, Python
- 25-35k Depending on experience.
Instead of looking to hire a junior developer and expect proficiency and experience as they were an entire IT department with the skills of a mid-senior while keeping the pay of a cleaner, hire multiple persons and build a real IT department.
Prefer part-time. Have more team members is the key here, offer part-time work or a four-day working week and hire more people. That guarantee your workforce remains fresh and productive even during pick times.
Unhealthy Workplace | Stick to the Industry average salaries
Among developers we say, you are not a developer if you don’t visit StackOverflow when you are stuck, right?
Well, the most used developers’ platform has released a salary calculator that gives a clear idea of what a salary for a specific role, skills and years of experience should look like.
💰 Let’s look for a few salary examples:
- Front-end developer – Norwich, UK
- Two years of Experience
- no Barcelo degree
- Avg Salary (50-75%): 36-48k per year.
- Back-end developer – Norwich, UK
- years of experience: 2
- Education: less than a Barcelo degree
- Avg Salary (50-75%): 36-47k per yar
- Full-stack developer – Norwich, UK
- years of experience: 2
- Education: less than a Barcelo degree
- Skills: PHP, Laravel, node.js, vue.js, WordPress
- Salary: 34-44k
❗ Consider that the above examples are limited to 5 skills, two years of experience only. More skills, more year of experience, higher is the salary.
Improve Work environment
💻 Companies must provide the best equipment to their employees to do the job. A well-designed workstation and work environment is a must.
If you stack your employees, grab desks that others have left next to the bin or use a spare meeting desks to set up your new employee’ workstation you should consider if that will create a safe work environment for your employees first or not be allowed to do business at all.
What a horrible work environment. What’s the point of having a good chair when you have to bent down your neck to see the laptop screen? Look these people posture, completely wrong and unhealthy. But that is not enough, they work in an open space office, having to wear headphones all the time. Goodbye productivity. Places like that should be banned, while people should refuse to work there.
It’s against the law to put your employees’ health at risk. And as we have discussed above there are several health issues that you can cause to your workforce.
An example of a good chair?
This is one of the most important points here and it’s a law requirement to set up a safe work environment for your employees.
Believe me when I say that I have seen a company setting up an entire department using desks taken from to the bins down the road 😱
This point goes with the first, if employees are overwhelmed as the workload is excessive they won’t be able to take regular breaks.
⏱ Regular breaks for office workers aren’t the same for instance to those working in a warehouse.
Unless you want your employees to become like Emma, your business must have a dedicated policy for your office workers like developers, web designers, marketers, content writers and so on.
Improve Management approach
👩💼 A well-trained manager can understand the importance and differences between your departments and workforce and provide the right support to your employees. Avoiding that they develop health issues, and cause situations where employees health is put at risk.
“It is important for employers to be approachable and to encourage staff to talk about issues that may be affecting them. Management styles should be tailored to the needs of each member of staff. Managers should be proactive and able to spot the signs of mental ill-health.”
🦻 Listen to your team. The director is the one who leads the company.
Directors’ lack of experience, knowledge and skills are likely to put employees health at serious risk if the only thing they look for is profit without considering that it doesn’t come alone.
Surely profit is the goal of every business but it cannot have the priority over employees health.
Rember that happy employees are capable of great things.
Offer private Health Care insurance
🩺 Perks are a good attractive for your team but a useful perk has no competitors. Private health insurance is a good way to show that you care to your employees. If they got sick they can seek professional help and recover quickly without negatively affecting your business.
Who cares of a birthday cake, a Xmas Jumper Day, or a gaming room more than personal health?
Pay Sick leave
🤒 In many countries, by law (like in Italy where I originally come from). Employees are paid when they are sick, in other countries this is optional.
Leaving your employees without pay when they are sick isn’t the best thing you can do for your business. Employees sick without pay takes longer to recover and they will no longer be loyal to your business because it was not there to help them when they most needed for help.
Offer Gym Memberships
💪 One of the perks you should consider it offer to your employees a gym membership.
Healthy employees are more productive and regular physical exercises are known to improve lifestyle and health, making people stronger and healthier.
🏄♂️ Time off is essential to every human being. It is crucial to develop social relationships, spend time with family and friends. Consider a four-day working week and to increase the statutory holiday leave so that your employees can enjoy free time.
Often when people are stuck on something, they take a break and do something else. Developers for instance when having to solve complex problems they feel stuck and needs to take a day to rest their brain. Suddenly the solution comes out as it has always been there.
Time off helps our brain and body to recharge its battery, reducing stress levels and helping to get back on track.
Avoid abusing of your employees time, is the key here, as they will feel exhausted if you do so and your company will surely be affected as productivity drops down immediately.
Consider Remote Working
🏡 The future isn’t in your office anymore, the future is remote. With all the tools that technology has brought to us, companies can safely increase productivity by hiring remote workers.
Next time you hire someone, consider posting your job on one of the platforms for remote working like remotive.io
That will help your business to keep costs down and increase productivity. There are many successful companies entirely distributed who hire only remote workers like the folks behind WordPress for example.
So..I wish you all happy holidays and a cutting edge year in 2020!
With the wish that the new year brings a positive change in the tech industry with more companies embracing remote working, while others committed to offering a safe, highly paid, developer-oriented, work environment!
I hope this article was useful, feel free to leave a comment below if you want to share your story.Fabio
👑Thanks to Serena Pecci for working with me on this article👑