The nation has unexpectedly found themselves working from home. For some, this might be the first time you haven’t had a dedicated workspace to go to.
You might have seen our contribution in this article by the Guardian: Is a room of one’s own a luxury or an essential.
“I knew the time had come to change my work environment when my laptop went missing amid a mass of Lego bricks and discarded toddler snacks. Situated in a cramped corner of my children’s playroom, my workspace was unaffectionate known as the “ploffice”
The running theme of this article covered why people desire to work from home, and if they choose to do so “is a separate work area a necessity or a luxury?” We wanted to expand on this excellent article. Should you choose to work from home, or if your company has decided to adopt agile working practises, we have also included a step by step guide to setting up your home workstation.
Working on the sofa might sound idyllic; however, this can lead to numerous back problems further down the line. Where possible, we believe that a separate work area is beneficial for home workers where you can set up a proper chair, desk and equipment.
This isn’t necessarily dependent on space. With a little bit of space planning and clever furniture, you can make any little nook into a productive work area.
Try a workstation self-assessment
A workstation assessment (DSE) is a legal requirement in offices with 5 or more screen users. As well as compliance, they are really useful for pointing out issues that might harm you in the long run. Try an online assessment from as little as 99p to highlight problems with your home workspace.
Adjust your chair and sit correctly
If you tend to sit for long periods of times, we would suggest investing in a good ergonomic chair to support various postures throughout your working day. Ergonomic chairs are usually modular and built to your specification e.g extra-deep seats for tall users or a shorter back for smaller users. Once you have found your perfect chair, it’s time to set it up correctly to make sure you get all of the benefits of your new chair. Our simple guide will help you to set up your chair correctly.
…Or make the most out of your kitchen table
If you don’t have space for an ergonomic chair, you could make some comfortable adjustments to your current chairs with sitting wedges to angle your pelvis forward slightly for a better posture, or better yet, a backfriend to make it a little bit more supportive. Our ergonomics expert Jo has made this simple video to help you make the most out of your kitchen table.
Make sure that your screens are at the correct height
We think this has to be our number one sore neck culprit! Making sure that the top of your screen is in-line with your eyebrows stops you from dropping your neck or slouching over to view the screen. Then all you need to do is put your arms straight out in front of you. Your screen should be an arm’s length away with your fingers able to touch the screen.
Use your laptop safely
We know that it’s tempting to pick a comfy spot and work off your laptop when you’re working from home. If you are working from a laptop for any period of time we would recommend setting it up on a laptop stand to raise it to eye height and then use a separate wireless keyboard to ensure the screen on the laptop stays at arm’s length. Take a look at our guide to working on a laptop safely here.
Take regular breaks
There’s often a common misconception that ‘home workers don’t work as hard as those in the office’. However, in our experience, it’s often even harder to switch off as the borders between work and home life blur. If you are working from home, make sure that you agree strict hours with your employer so that you feel comfortable in shutting down at a set time and getting on with your evening just as you would in a 9-5 office.
We also tend to have prompts to move around and take a break. Making your colleagues tea or chatting around the water cooler might not seem significant, but these little micro-breaks are great productivity boosters and also prevent you from sitting down all day. When you are working from home, try setting yourself little reminders to take proper breaks! If you are using Google Chrome, we recommend like the free Posture Minder app. Its quirky little reminders always encourage us to sit up straight!
Try out some simple desk exercises
We can’t stress enough how important is to try to get as much movement into your day as possible. It’s our mantra that prevention is better than cure, and making sure that you take preventative measures in setting up your workstation can make a huge difference later down the line. We all use standing desks and ergonomic chairs that help us get more movement into our day without having to think about it. If you are consciously trying to squeeze more movement into an otherwise sedentary day, try these simple desk exercises.
Avoid tech neck
If you are a regular phone user in the office, it’s more than likely that you use a landline on your desk. As long as you keep your close to you to prevent repetitive over-reaching (or use a headset if your main role is phone-based), you should be free from shoulder pain.
If you work from home without access to a landline, you may text and email from your mobile. This can often cause ‘tech neck’ from dropping the head to look down at the phone; to prevent this, lift your phone to meet your eye line, instead of dropping your neck to look down.