Working from Home – What ROSA can teach us

Taking a ZOOM call with your kids having a home-schooling meltdown, or the dog making an appearance to ask for dinner used to be one of the simple charms of working from home – but with the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us find ourselves living this reality every hour of our workday. When you are rapidly forced to change working environments, some of the productivity tools we have become so used to now are no longer available – and this includes our ergonomic chairs, mice, and keyboards. Lots of highly qualified ergonomists have written great posts about how to set up your office at home – plugging in keyboards and mice, while putting your laptop on a riser to keep your neck from being too flexed.  What happens when you don’t have access to secondary monitors, a mouse, or a keyboard? Using the Rapid Office Strain Assessment (ROSA), I tried to see what the best possible work from home (WFH) office configuration was for those who might not have access to dedicated equipment.  

A bit about ROSA 

For those of you that are not familiar with the Rapid Office Strain Assessment, ROSA is a self-guided office ergonomics assessment tool, which helps provide a score indicating the overall level of risk an office contains related to possible discomfort. ROSA has been put through its paces in the scientific community, with over 150 citations on Google Scholar. ROSA’s scoring system lets us instantly capture a risk level of an office – but also lets us easily compare any two offices to see how they might be beneficial or detrimental to a worker. In this experiment, we relied on the ROSA final and domain scores to capture risk to the overall office, as well as the chair, monitor, telephone, mouse, and keyboard. 


To examine some common work from home situations, 11 MyAbilities employees completed ROSA assessments while they were working in the dedicated home office, sitting on their couch, their bed, and at their kitchen or dining room table. We all assumed for the assessment that we had the same duration working in each of the four configurations, so the ROSA scores were primarily coming from the risk factors related to set up and not duration. 

In each of the four set ups, the ROSA final score was calculated using our online software, along with the chair, monitor and telephone, and mouse and keyboard domain scores.  

Average ROSA Final and Domain Scores by WFH configuration
ROSA Scores by Domain and WFH configuration

Not surprisingly, the home office score was the best for all of our workers – with a ROSA score of 3.5. Back to our original ROSA experiment, a ROSA final score of 5 is the threshold for increased risk of discomfort. If we were to rank the other offices based on risk, the dining room table (average score of 5.5) was second best, followed by the couch (6.2), and bed (7.1). Looking further into these numbers, you can see that a lot of this risk is coming from elevated ROSA scores in the chair section – not only are the couch, dining room table, and bed not adjustable, they very rarely have any form of lumbar support, have seat pans that are not of the appropriate distance, and don’t allow workers to have their back, knee, or hips in the appropriate position.  

When we look at the other components of the workstation, you can see mouse and keyboard are likely the next biggest culprit for discomfort – using your laptop on your lap typically causes your wrists to be extended and deviated to the sides. Getting the computer off of your lap and on to a table that lets you work while your shoulders can stay relaxed is a good ergonomic boost.  

The relative risk levels do increase from the optimal home office situation, but as we can see here – if you don’t have access to any sort of dedicated ergonomic equipment – the dining room table is likely your best bet for a temporary ergonomic workstation.  

Something to note here though – when we did our experiment, two of our highest scores actually came from the dining room configuration – and this is when our workers were at a kitchen island, or a bar height table. In that situation, we see very high scores coming from the high seating – not allowing for proper foot support on the floor, and even less back support than a normal chair would provide. If that’s your working situation in your home, you might be better to look at different options.   

Relative risk for different WFH configurations compared to home office set up


As we get settled into our home offices for the foreseeable future, most people are having to use what they currently have laying around their houses to get working. With our findings, we are recommending that you work at your dining room table instead of your couch or in your bed, at least until you can get make the changes necessary to set up your home office to more resemble your regular office. Above all else – if you are having to work on your laptop for a long time – moving around and changing your posture is your most important step.    

Other References for Work from Home Ergonomics

Dr. Michael Sonne, PhD, CCPE
Dr. Michael Sonne, PhD, CCPE

Mike is the creator of the Rapid Office Strain Assessment, or ROSA, which is being taught at numerous universities around the globe.

Flattening the Curve brings Office Ergonomics to the home office

Experts at MyAbilities offer tips and free access to the Rapid Office Strain Assessment, or ROSA, so workers can work at home as safely as possible

MISSISSAUGA, Ont., March 20, 2020 – The world changed last week and office work will never be the same again. That is the conclusion drawn by the experts at MyAbilities, a leader in smart health technology and workplace safety.  

“To help keep the population safe, while trying to maintain life we know in the best way possible, people are working from home in greater numbers than ever seen before,” says Dr. Michael Sonne, vice president, innovations and research at MyAbilities Technologies. “We’ll really get to see just how impactful this can be on our productivity, health and work-life balance. While many of us have had work from home opportunities in the past, this is going to pose a great challenge as no one really had time to prepare. It’s important to keep ergonomics in mind as you adjust to the new normal and your work from home environment.”  

The company is providing a list of tips to help workers adjust to home office environments.

“Given the current climate of uncertainty and change, we are committed to helping businesses and workers make the best of the situation and realize that home offices can be just as comfortable and productive as the traditional office setting,” says Reed Hanoun, CEO at MyAbilities.

To help companies better equip and support their employees for work at home, MyAbilities is also offering a free two-month trial of ROSA, the Rapid Office Strain Assessment, a self-assessment tool for office ergonomics.  ROSA provides guidance on proper setup for your computer workstation.

Working remotely has increasingly been considered by organizations as a viable option to provide flexibility to their workforce.

A few ergonomics tips

  1. Keep moving – sitting with your laptop on your knees and your neck bent down while on your couch is going to cause neck and back pain. Whenever possible, move between the couch, your desk, kitchen table, etc. Movement is key to preventing pain when you might not have dedicated office furniture.
  2. The laptop was meant for travel – and we’re all at home now. Remember that laptops were meant for portability – when you have the opportunity to plug your laptop into a monitor, keyboard, and mouse, take that chance.
  3. Be the MacGyver of your own office ergonomics – you might not have as many adjustments on your dining room chairs as you do with your office task chair, but take advantage of things like a rolled-up towel to give you more lumbar support, use a phone book or old text book to elevate your monitor while using a keyboard.
  4. The neck and shoulder hold gets tiring really fast – most of us have Bluetooth headphones or earbuds. These typically have a microphone built in. Avoid holding your cellphone between your neck and shoulder when you’re on conference calls and make the most out of these headsets.

ROSA was inspired because poor ergonomics is a leading cause of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). Created in 2012, ROSA is an online tool that guides users through a self-assessment of their workstations. In addition, it provides immediate recommendations for adjustments to reduce discomfort. Used proactively it contributes to a reduction of lost time at work, an increase in productivity and can help with overall health and wellness.

This is the first time MyAbilities’ ROSA is offered at no cost. There is no commitment and no automatic renewal. To learn more about the ROSA, or any other programs from MyAbilities, visit

About MyAbilities Technologies Inc.

MyAbilities is a software company that delivers injury prevention and expedited return-to-work solutions through a cloud-based SaaS platform.

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Media contact, resources and information:

Alex Wu
Torchia Communications
(416) 341-9929, ext. 239

Home Office

Working from Home – Office Ergonomics to help mind & body

With the COVID-19 outbreak, many of us are finding ourselves working from home for the first time. I’ve read a lot of great posts about how to get the most of out of your office ergonomics to help prevent pain and discomfort, so I won’t be covering that all here again – instead, I’d like to talk about the things you can do in your home office (or as you might know it, your couch, dining table, kitchen island, or spare bedroom) to get the most out of your workday. 

Physical Ergonomics while working from home 

Lots of great tips are floating around the internet on how you should set up a home office, so I won’t spend much time doing that here. At the end of the day, many of us didn’t have much time to prepare for this big change in our working life – so the chances of running out to the store to grab a spare monitor and keyboard are pretty limited. 

That being said, do what you can to get yourself in a good posture – and if you can’t, moving around your home office can be a big help. Sitting on the couch with your laptop on your lap, and your neck constantly bent down is a recipe for neck pain – but if you mix that in with sitting at the kitchen table, standing at the counter, or other mixed postures – you can introduce the kind of movement that helps keep you comfortable.  

Distancing your Home Office from your living space 

This has its challenges for those of us working in apartments or smaller areas – but try to set up a work area or home office space in your house. When you work all day where you relax all night, it’s tough to get that mental distance between when your brain is “on” and you’re now trying to watch some Netflix. If you can’t do that physically, try to set up your schedule where you get dressed into working clothes for your work day, and change into your more casual attire once you’ve finished your job. 

Give yourself a break 

Take a break
Photo by The Lazy Artist Gallery from Pexels

We have entered a time that none of us have ever been prepared for – the world is changing at a pace we have never seen, and there’s news coming out every 15 minutes that shakes your core. Give yourself a chance to adapt to the new normal and don’t beat yourself up over writing less words per minute, making fewer connections with prospects, or making a mistake in your spreadsheet. You need to give yourself the mental space to adjust and berating yourself (or your co-workers) won’t help. We’re all in this together, and it starts with taking care of yourself! 

Now when it comes to taking a break, a change of scenery can help you mentally and physically. Instead of checking the latest news sites, go for a short walk, take a stretch break, or get some exercise.  Get out of that home office and refresh your mind.

Rely on the tools at your disposal 

Both Android and iOS operating systems have tools for managing your working hours to minimize distractions when your day is done. Using these will help you disconnect and allow you to manage stress levels better.  

None of this is gospel, and much like anyone reading this – we’re all trying to figure things out as we go! Take care of yourself, help those who need help, and we’ll be back to gathering around the water cooler in no time. 

 Learn more about office ergonomics in my earlier article here.

Dr. Michael Sonne, PhD, CCPE
Dr. Michael Sonne, PhD, CCPE

Mike is the creator of the Rapid Office Strain Assessment, or ROSA, which is being taught at numerous universities around the globe.

Improve Office Ergonomics

Office ergonomics can improve (or hurt) well-being

Did you know that over 60% of office workers are feeling discomfort? Or that musculoskeletal disorders (MSD’s) account for a third of workers’ compensation claims? Improving office ergonomics is quickly becoming a necessity.

This inspired the creation of the Rapid Office Strain Assessment, or ROSA. This online tool guides users through an office ergonomic self-assessment. ROSA provides immediate recommendations on adjustments that will reduce their risk of discomfort and eventually injury.

ROSA has been around for a few years and is a science-based process that has been peer-reviewed. For example, there are over 170 citations around the globe of the original paper. The methodology is now being taught at several universities. It has also been translated into several languages.

Development and evaluation of office ergonomic risk

Cited over 170 times, this paper demonstrates ROSA’s efficacy.

Actual Results in the Office

There are also real-world examples of how ROSA has improved office ergonomics with tangible results. In fact, a Top 20 globally ranked university has been using ROSA for their office ergonomics program for a few years.

As a result, 87% of their users were able to make meaningful changes to their workstations. Discomfort levels have steadily dropped, reducing the risk of discomfort or MSD’s by ~20%.

In another example, Hamilton Health Sciences achieved similar results. In a one year time period, they completed 431 assessments and noted a decrease of ~45% in computer workstation MSDs.

As a result, Lisa Gilmour, Manager Health, Safety & Wellness Initiatives said, “The results provided meaningful change and helped improve the wellness of our colleagues.”

The Impact of Office Ergonomics

Each MSD incident can cost thousands of dollars. These are meaningful results that can improve the well-being of your employees and their productivity. So your business saves money and increases productivity.

To learn more about ROSA, click here, or contact MyAbilities here.

Dr. Michael Sonne, PhD, CCPE
Dr. Michael Sonne, PhD, CCPE

Mike is the creator of the Rapid Office Strain Assessment, or ROSA, which is being taught at numerous universities around the globe.

MyAbilities hosts webinar to transform workplace ergonomics and introduce self-administered ROSA – Rapid Office Strain Assessment – to new audiences

MISSISSAUGA, Ont., February 25, 2020 – MyAbilities, innovator in smart health technology and workplace safety, will host a webinar tomorrow, February 26, to help organizations reduce their lost time injuries due to poor office ergonomics.

“On average, the office worker spends two-thirds of each day at their desk,” says Dr. Michael Sonne, vice president of innovations and research at MyAbilities. “For the rest of their day, they’re often working with cellphones, tablets, and other electronic devices. Combine that with hot-desks and mobile offices, proper ergonomics becomes an even bigger challenge for the modern worker than it was a decade ago”.

Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs) are on the rise due in part to the lack of emphasis by employers on proper office ergonomics. Posture, contact stress, and improper seating continue to be contributing factors of MSDs.

“Providing office ergonomics is no easy task,” says Jacob Lazarovic M.D., chief medical officer of MyAbilities. “ROSA teaches employees how to adjust their current office equipment for proper ergonomics in order to minimize injury and MSDs. Simple adjustments to your desk, computer screen or even your posture can provide long-term health benefits for the entire body. ROSA is peer-reviewed and has a firm basis in research, making it a great tool to be the foundation of an office ergonomics program.”

Created in 2012 by Sonne, Rapid Office Strain Assessment (ROSA) focuses on risk-assessment for ergonomics and provides guidance on proper setup for the workplace. ROSA can reduce lost time on the job by proactively improving office health for employees through proper office ergonomics.

This will be the second webinar organized by MyAbilities this year. A first one was held, January 15, 2020, to introduce, the company’ s digital job profile analysis database.

To attend tomorrow’s webinar, please click here.

About MyAbilities Technologies Inc.

MyAbilities is an employee health management technology company that delivers transformative injury prevention and return-to-work solutions through a cloud-based data analytics SaaS platform powered by artificial intelligence.

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Media contact, resources and information:

Alex Wu
Torchia Communications
(416) 341-9929, ext. 239

Webinar Registration click HERE

JobX Digital Job Profiles – The Value for Employers

Job profiles, also known as job descriptions or physical demands analyses, are critically important for employers. Unfortunately, many companies do not have accurate and comprehensive job profiles. They may:

  • Not exist at all
  • Be handwritten and/or paper-based
  • Be incomplete and/or outdated
  • Not be digitally actionable.
  • Not contain the full range of occupational demands: physical, cognitive, psychosocial, environmental, etc.

All of this puts the employer at a major disadvantage and even at risk.

The Benefits

Firstly, let’s discuss the benefits. JobX Digital Job Profile (DJP) allows the employer to develop and update an easily retrievable and shareable job profile. MyAbilities has created a database of over 50,000 job titles. Employers use existing profiles as is, or customize them to reflect the particular features of an employer’s jobs.

The detailed demands are used for highly targeted recruitment purposes. Employers clearly define search criteria for candidates. As a result, candidates can understand if they can meet the demands of a job. Post offer of employment testing is easier using the DJP as the benchmark.

Use cases for Digital Job Profiles

The DJP highlights body regions that are at risk of injury for each job. Consequently, this allows employers to implement preventive ergonomic modifications that will reduce injuries and claims. Additionally, you can use the DJP to train new employees to properly and safely perform the job. Also, it enables you to perform periodic monitoring to ensure compliance with safe practices.

User Friendly Format

Digital Job Profile example

The DJP’s graphic display is easy to read. In addition, videos and pictures of each job’s functions and tasks can be uploaded. This creates a visual record that all users of the platform can access. A video (taken by smartphone or tablet at the worksite) provides a better understanding of what a job entails. Moreover, we supplement this using our AI-enabled kinematic analysis. As a result, we create an enhanced DJP that is superior to paper-based profiles.

All of the above features support an employer’s human resource management practices in the absence of any occupational injury or illness. If and when injury occurs, the employer can allow its TPA or insurance carrier to immediately access the worker’s DJP from its customized job bank. This allows the organization to quickly initiate appropriate claim and medical interventions that promote timely Return to Work.

Database sourced from O*NET

The US Department of Labor’s online database, O*NET, is the source used to create the JobX Digital Job Profile Database. Starting with the results of intensive surveys and studies contained in O*NET, JobX Digital Job Profiles turns them into visual and useful tools for understanding the demands of work. Customization of the existing profiles, or confirmation by the employer that they are valid as is, provides an objective and defensible representation of job demands.

Demands Analysis for The Whole Person

Psychosocial Demands Analysis

For the first time, MyAbilities identifies the demands on the whole person. Traditional methods have focused on physical demands. But the nature of work has changed and continues to change, as do the nature of work-related injuries.

Cognitive and maybe more importantly Psychosocial demands become more of a factor. Therefore, understanding what they are is the first step in being able to develop strategies to address them.

JobX Digital Job Profiles include an assessment of the Cognitive and Psychosocial demands. MyAbilities applies a Demand score, identifying those jobs that have greater needs.

In fact, the Psychosocial Demand Score has a strong correlation to stress leave incidence by job title. The higher demand, the higher the percentage of workers go on stress leave. Developing strategies to reduce that demand will have an impact on employee well-being as well as reducing costs.

Reduce Risk

Furthermore, employers need to be aware of the risks of litigation and penalties. Compliance with OSHA, ADA and EEOC is mandatory. A complete job bank with state-of-the-art DJPs ensures compliance with OSHA requirements. DJP’s clearly document the demands of work. DJP’s defend against allegations that workers’ are required to perform duties outside their responsibilities.

Also, DJP’s improve ADA compliance by documenting that an injured worker is able to return to work when objectively capable of performing the essential demands of the job, with or without reasonable accommodations. Alternatively, DJPs help to identify other jobs that the worker may be able to perform after rehabilitation has ended.

In summary, MyAbilities is able to work with employers to quickly and cost-effectively facilitate the development of a proprietary digital job bank that achieves unique and permanent benefits for businesses of all sizes and types of industry.

You can look at the existing database and share Digital Job Profiles for free at or learn more here. To learn more about the uses of JobX Digital Job Profiles, visit

Dr. Jacob Lazarovic, MD, FAAFP
Dr. Jacob Lazarovic, MD, FAAFP

Jake is the Chief Medical Officer for MyAbilities, and has over 35 years of senior medical administration/managed care experience.

Automated risk assessments from Functional Job Descriptions – using PDAi and the Demand Score to look at risk in your workplace

Written by Mike Sonne, PhD, CCPE

Typically – a physical demands description, or a function job description, has served as a cookbook – a recipe to determine the ingredients required to complete a job, but nothing like a food critique that would tell you if that job was good or bad. If someone needed to do a risk assessment of a job, a separate analysis would occur, and depending on how that assessment was completed, a third analysis might be required to dive deeper into the risks associated with a job. Using the JOBX system featuring PDAi to complete your functional job descriptions can automate this process, allowing you to quickly determine which of your jobs might have the highest risks, then measure the impact of your changes. Here’s an example of how that is accomplished.


Functional job descriptions: Why do you need them?

July 02, 2019 / Beth Burry – AVP, clinical ops, Sedgwick field case management and return to work

As every manager knows, job descriptions are a necessary tool to help match the most appropriate and qualified candidates to job postings, while weeding out ‘unqualified’ candidates. This means many job descriptions are written to exclude candidates in the application process and are not very useful for determining what the actual, functional components of a job are or when an injured worker can return to work.

Functional job descriptions are a crucial piece of an organization’s return to work program. Despite their usefulness for workers’ compensation, most employers either don’t have functional job descriptions or, if they do, they aren’t updated or easily accessed by claims examiners, return to work specialists and nurse case managers. This can lead to higher costs for employers as their injured employees stay out of work longer than necessary.


Research Review: Is physical capacity associated with the occurrence of musculoskeletal symptoms among office workers?

Injury occurs when the demands of a job exceed the capacity of a worker. Primarily, the capacity of a worker is focused on the physical strength that they possess – how much muscle force can be generated by the muscles of the lower back, shoulder, etc. However, other factors inherent to the job can also reduce the worker’s physical capacity – including the mental capacity of the worker. In assessing the ergonomics of a workplace, both the mental, and the physical demands must be assessed to determine the true risk of injury that a job inherently has.


The DOL Strength Levels – does oversimplifying job demands increase exposure to injury risk?

Written by: Mike Sonne, PhD, CCPE

Summary: The DOL strength levels classify jobs into 5 separate categories defined by force/weight, and frequency of exertion. The classification system leads to a broad oversimplification of the demands of work, which in the worst case can lead to over and under estimates of physical demands of over 500%. A much more granular system is needed to better understand the different physical demands of work, and how that  can be used in return to work, and injury prevention.