Safe temporary home working

If you are working from home for this extended period of time, it is really important that you maintain good physical and mental health. A sudden transition from the office to home is challenging for many, especially if you also have children or dependents to care for.

Here is a list of practical pointers to help you through this temporary period of home working:

Setting up a safe and comfortable space

It is really important to set up a safe and comfortable work-space which should include a table/desk, a chair, and any workstation accessories i.e. keyboard, mouse, chargers, phone, pen, and paper etc.

Try and find a space with sufficient room, light, and ventilation. Ensure your computer is close to a plug socket to avoid any trailing cords but remember not to overload sockets or extension leads.

If you are using a monitor, set the height and position of the screen so that you can sit comfortably and minimise any reflection from the light.

If you are working from a laptop, try to use a separate keyboard and mouse in addition. Avoid placing the laptop directly on your lap; try to use a table/desk surface.

A routine that works for you

To set yourself up the right way, it may help you to get up at your regular time in the morning and follow your usual routine – shower, get dressed and have breakfast. Tempting as it may be to stay in your pyjamas, you are likely to feel less motivated to work.

Try to be realistic about what you can achieve so that you are not left feeling disappointed at the end of the day. If you have the option to be flexible with your working hours, using your evenings or days off to catch up may be more appropriate.

Reducing the risks of display screen work

In the office, your day is often broken up by everything from meetings, to lunch breaks, and even toilet breaks, but when you are at home it can be easy to lose track of time and work for longer periods.

Try to break up long spells of desk work with plenty of rest breaks which will help you to maintain concentration levels – at least 5 minutes every hour or change your work activity. Just because your comfy at home, does not mean you do not need a proper break.

Leave your desk for lunch and take advantage of any good weather and fresh air which will help you to feel more refreshed. This also includes drinking plenty of water and making time to eat proper meals rather than continuously snacking and crashing after too much sugar.

Try to avoid awkward, static postures by regularly changing position, and getting up and moving about. Muscle immobility is one of the most common reasons for muscle aches we so frequently experience while working at the computer. These are even more likely to happen if you are working at a make-shift space that lacks an ergonomic setup. The Government’s HSE website includes a useful video of setting your workstation up when temporarily working from home.

It may also help to try some workstation exercises. The Bupa website offer useful desk stretches – save this link and give them a go each day.

Staring at a screen for long periods of time can cause eye fatigue. Try to change focus and blink from time to time.

Once your workday is over, give yourself permission to step away and be done. It may help to take stock of what went well and what you may want to do differently the next day. Wind down and get a good night’s sleep.

Being sociable

Working from home does not mean that you cannot interact with colleagues. If you are missing them, build opportunities for socialising into your day. Speaking and seeing colleagues through phone calls or using chat will often offer more than through email.

Feeling supported

During this challenging time, it is really important that you look after both your physical and mental health. If you feel you would benefit from additional support, talk to your Manager.

Working from home may create feelings of isolation. Use video or chat to ask your colleagues for help when you need it. Asking for help when you need it is crucial for your mental health as well as for your ability to do your job.

Key Takeaways

  • Set up an office space – a comfortable desk or table tucked away in a corner will offer a bit of private space to work

  • Create a healthy work environment – have a routine to help distinguish between home and work

  • Take plenty of breaks – if you are struggling with motivation, you are distracted, or you are becoming fatigued, take some time away from your screen and try some workstation exercises

  •  Be flexible – flexibility will help you to juggle work and family life

  • Keep talking – support is available, talk to your colleagues or your Manager if you need additional help during this difficult time