Google data shows that worldwide searches for the term “back pain” and “remote work” are at an all-time high.
There’s been a clear spike in Google searches for the terms since the pandemic began - connecting remote working to increased levels of back pain. As employers try to get workers back in the office, the uptick in searches for “remote work” could be down to people searching for remote-friendly jobs.
Does your back hurt right now? If so: First of all, I am sorry.
And second, you’re in good company. Google data shows that worldwide searches for the term “back pain” are at an all-time high.
Search interest in back pain has climbed steadily since Google first began tracking data in 2004. But there’s been a clear spike since the pandemic began, which might lead one to speculate — as Newsweek recently did—about possible connections between the rise of remote work and aching spines around the globe.
Is working from home bad for the back?
It’s natural to wonder about the correlation. As many remote workers have discovered, kitchen-table chairs weren’t designed to offer the kind of lumbar support necessary for an eight-hour workday.
On the other hand, ergonomic office chairs tend to look rather clunky—which is fine for a cubicle environment where aesthetics aren’t a top priority, but less so when it comes to inviting a hulking piece of equipment into the corners of otherwise lovingly-decorated living rooms. (It’s worth noting that working while reclined in bed can be a surprisingly back-friendly, if nap-adjacent, option.)
But if you think a little back pain is enough to deter people from working from home, think again. Google searches for “remote work” are also spiking at levels not seen since the pandemic first hit in March 2020.
People are pining for the days of remote work. Early in the pandemic, it’s likely that the people Googling “remote work” were simply trying to figure out how to do it.
By now, most office workers know all about virtual meetings and the importance of establishing work-life boundaries. So what’s with the recent search uptick?
[World Economic Forum]
This article is published in collaboration withQuartz.