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Top tips for working from home

Amid the current coronavirus situation, employers are being encouraged to let employees work from home to help limit the spread of the virus. However, while traditional office environments are set up specifically to facilitate work, the average home has usually been designed with comfort in mind.

This isn’t necessarily an issue if you’re working from home over the course of a few days, but it can have more serious implications over a longer period. If you are already working from home, or if you think you may be asked to do so shortly, it’s vital that your workspace is set up to help protect your physical and mental health.

To help people better understand how to set up a workspace at home, we’ve put together the following tips:

Choose the right chair

Your chair is the most important piece of furniture in your day, due to the amount of time you’re going to spend sitting in it. While the comfort of your sofa or bed looks very inviting right now, long term use of inappropriate furniture can have serious health implications. If you can, try to use an ergonomic chair that can be adjusted to the right seat height, back height and tilt to preserve good posture even while working from home. If you don’t own a chair like this, why not ask your employer if you can take your office chair home with you? After all, the better your chair is, the more likely you’ll be able to remain productive.

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Get your setup right

Another major part of working from home is making sure that your work surface and the surrounding area are suitable for long term use. When considering a surface to work from, it’s important that you choose one that allows you to remain comfortable throughout the day. When choosing your work surface, consider the following:

  • Is the desk/surface at the correct height for you to work?
  • Is there enough space under the desk/surface to allow free movement?
  • Do you sit with a good posture or are you hunched over the desk?

As well as the surface you’re using, it’s equally important to make sure that your surrounding equipment is also set up correctly. For example, can you easily reach everything that you need without twisting and straining your upper body?

Making sure that your work surface is suitable for long term work may take a little bit of time to get right, but it will pay off in the long run and help to maintain your health and wellbeing.

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Health and wellbeing

It’s very easy to think of working from home as a practical solution to helping your organisation remain effective. However, it’s also important to factor in your physical health during any period working from home. This can include considerations such as:

  • Do you take adequate breaks from computer work?
  • Do you carry out regular stretches at your desk to avoid stiff or sore muscles?

While physical health is a considerable factor in working from home, people often underestimate the effects that it can have on mental health.

Travelling to a single place of work forms a daily routine, allows for socialising, and serves as a clear divide between work and home. Working from home can erode your daily routine, make you feel isolated and prevent you from being able to relax in your home when you’ve finished working for the day.

We, therefore, recommend that you bear the following in mind when planning to work from home:

Try to separate your work area from areas of relaxation

This will help to create a division between the two areas and help you relax when you’re not working. Try to avoid creating a workspace in your bedroom or living room if it can be avoided.

Make time for socialising

It’s easy to think that emailing colleagues or chatting to them online is adequate social contact, but face-to-face contact is an important part of socialising. Arrange to meet colleagues or friends in the evenings or during lunch breaks. If you’re not able to meet with friends locally, why not arrange a time to catch up via video chat?

Get plenty of fresh air

Going outside during breaks can be a great way to clear your head and get some exercise at the same time. Remember to open a window now and again to get some fresh air into your workspace and consider a plant or two to help clean the air.

Working from home can be a great opportunity to stabilise your work/life balance, but it can also affect your physical and mental health over a longer period. The best piece of advice that we can give is to try to treat working at home exactly as you would working in the office:

  • Use suitable office furniture
  • Make sure the space is well-lit, heated and ventilated
  • Look after your physical and mental health

If you can implement all of the above, then working from home can be a positive experience that allows you to achieve a great work/life balance, while also helping your company remain effective and successful.

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