Many of us have had the experience of working from home during 2020 because of the pandemic, and employers have seen the benefits of such an arrangement. So much so that some companies are permanently incorporating the flexibility of their employees being able to work from home whenever they wish.
At home, though, there’s no HR department on tap or Health and Safety Officer to consult concerning your work environment. It’s still important for your physical and mental health that your home office set-up is appropriate, comfortable and practical wherever possible.
Here are our tips that will help you achieve this:
Your work environment
Set up a dedicated area that affords you enough space to work. Think about where best to position your PC, paperwork and any other equipment you need, so that it’s close to hand. Make sure you have enough space to work comfortably; bonus points if you have somewhere private and free from interruptions.
Assess your set-up
Carry out a DSE (Display Screen Equipment) assessment if you use a screen for an hour or more a day (whether a laptop, desktop computer, tablet or smartphone). Your employer may arrange a Virtual DSE assessment with a Health and Safety Consultant or they may simply ask you to carry out a self-assessment. There’s a great checklist on the HSE website (https://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/ck1.pdf) that you can work through yourself.
Some of the main points to consider when setting up DSE include:
Do you have enough space to set up your equipment comfortably?
If you use a laptop, do you have a separate keyboard and mouse that can be positioned to suit your needs? Your arms should be level from the elbows when typing and your mouse in easy reach.
Is the top of the screen level with your eyeline? Can the screen be positioned far enough back on the work surface to allow use of your keyboard? Is the screen large enough to be read? Can you tilt and swivel the screen so that you can see it clearly? You might want to consider adding a second, larger screen if working from a laptop.
Do you have adequate lighting? Is the room bright enough for you to see your work? Is your screen positioned so that it’s free from the glare of windows, lights and reflective surfaces?
Is the chair you use suitable for sitting in for long periods? Is it height adjustable so that your forearms are horizontal, and the top of your screen is at eye-level? Does it support the small of your back? Can you place your feet flat on the floor (you might need a footrest for this)?
Remember to take regular breaks if you use a screen when working. You should also move around at least once an hour, which is a great excuse to get up and put the kettle on!
Working from home can involve the use of unfamiliar software or systems, in order to access the various networks you may use on a daily basis. Make sure you understand how these work, and if you don’t, ask your employer for some training.
If you run into difficulties with your IT equipment, make sure you know who to contact for help. Difficulties with IT can be a major source of stress, even more so if you’re working from home and don’t know who to turn to for assistance.
A big downside to working from home is the risk of loneliness. It can be difficult to still feel part of a team. Poor and infrequent contact with your boss or teammates can lead to high levels of work-related stress.
Arrange to regularly check in with your colleagues; or, if you work on your own, buddy up with other sole workers. Looking after your mental health is as important as looking after your physical health, so make sure you keep in touch with people. If you spot a colleague becoming a little withdrawn reach out to them to see if they need any support.
There are some valuable benefits that come with working from home, such as no commute, a lack of office politics, and a freedom/flexibility to choose your own hours. Following the tips above will ensure you complete your work in as safe a manner as possible.
Tracy Works at Danum Business Solutions. If you need more help with your Businesses health and safety contact them here
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