Guest blog from Emily Cooper at Posture People.
Emily kindly shares tips on how to work successfully from home.
With high desk vacancy rates and office space reaching a premium price 'Freelance', 'Flexible' and 'Agile' working is getting a lot of attention at the moment. For those of us that dream of ditching the commute and working in our slippers, working from home can feel like a win/win situation, but what are you missing out on from not having a traditional office environment?
As self confessed ergonomics geeks, it poses a bit of a conundrum for us. In offices with 5 or more screen users, you are legally protected by Display Screen Equipment (DSE) regulations to ensure that you are working safely, and feel comfortable and catered for regardless of your age, size or situation. But how can you translate this into your everyday working practices?
A healthy body goes hand in hand with a healthy mind so were here to share some of our top tips for help you set up an ergonomic, healthy and productive work space when working from home.
Setting up your home office
An agile worker’s 'office' can range from a coffee shop to the safe confines of your bed fortress. In our experience, this just isn't going to cut the mustard. No matter how much space you have at home we would always advise that you create a dedicated workspace to get into a 'it's time to work' mindset, even If it's your kitchen table that’s been turned into your own personal work haven.
If you have a little bit of budget set aside for 'dream home office 1.0', we would first and foremost recommend investing in an ergonomic office chair. There are hundreds of options out there to suit every individual, but even a basic model with back height adjustment, seat depth adjustment and adjustable arms can help you to prevent aches, pains and long term musculoskeletal issues associated with sitting all day.
If you already have a good office chair, make sure that you are making the most of it by setting it up correctly. You can download an easy to follow workstation guide here!
Low cost options like a back support might temporarily help with some of the discomfort from sitting on a dining chair but it won't have the ergonomic benefits of a chair that’s been set up correctly for the dimensions of your body and how you work.
After you have set up your chair correctly, make sure that you are taking care of your eyes. In workplaces that legally need to adhere to DSE law, you are required to have an eye test, so make sure you have regular eye tests if you are responsible for this. It's also worth mentioning that you should ideally look away from your screen into the distance every 10 minutes or so to prevent eye strain.
A simple rule of thumb when setting up your screens, is to make sure that the top of your screen is in line with your eyebrows. If you are using a laptop, then you can achieve this with a laptop or screen riser (or stack of books if you are feeling brave).
Next, place your arms out in front of you so until you brush the screen with your finger tips. This should give you the correct height and distance and prevent you dropping your neck to view the screen. This will mean that you need a separate keyboard to prevent overreaching or 'lifting' of your arms if you are using a laptop.
Having a dedicated workspace won't just be beneficial for your productivity, but also your mind. In or experience, working where you sleep, can blur the lines between your life and your working life. You need to be able to 'switch off' and leave your office at the end of your work day even if it is only 5 steps away.
Increase your productivity
It’s easy to lose track of time when you are working from home by yourself. The usual 'stopping points' such as tea breaks, stepping out for lunch or even just colleagues beckoning you over can help your productivity as you end up squeezing more activity into an otherwise sedentary work day.
Try to get out of sitting all day by adopting some little habits that we have found to be effective:
• Take phone calls standing up and pace around the room
• Drink water from a smaller glass to encourage more trips to get a refill (there are lots of free Google Chrome apps to remind you to drink more water)
• Get some fresh air! Regardless of how swamped you are, try to at least walk around the block to reset your mind and body
• Try the 'tomato timer' method to split your workload into productive 25 minute bursts and have a stretch between each task
• Have a go at some simple exercises designed for office workers
Look after your biggest asset
It's easy to forget that you are the biggest asset to your company. If you are suffering from aches and pains, it only serves as a distraction from the task at hand and may prevent you from working as efficiently as you would like to.
In the same way that it is important to look after your body, your mind needs some attention too. Some homeworkers can begin to feel isolated working away from a conventional office space. Pay attention and be mindful to how you want to work, and if you believe that it is detrimental to your productivity and wellbeing, remember that there are lots of other options for you:
-Discuss what (if any) agile working packages and benefits they have available to you and where possible, see if they are willing to provide a DSE assessment to flag up any issues with your workstation
-If you begin to feel isolated, try not to take it on as something that just 'comes with the job'. Scout out a local co-working space where you can take share some desk space for a cost-effective workspace or arrange face to face meetings where possible
-Stress is a complex issue in most workplaces. If you are struggling, seek advice on how to manage stress effectively
About Posture People
A friendly team of furniture geeks, Posture People are an award-winning Brighton based ergonomic office furniture consultancy. Although completely independent, Posture People have represented the very best in iconic British and European furniture for over 10 years with an extensive portfolio of well-known manufacturers.
As qualified DSE assessors with a primary focus on workplace wellbeing, the spaces we create lead to happier, healthier people and more productive working environments.
Get in touch to see how we can help!
0845 313 1503