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Working from home: staying positive, healthy and productive.

Author: Oliver Jobson

A lot has changed in the last few weeks and many people may now find themselves working from home for the foreseeable future.  There have been major changes for all of us, but even those used to working from home may have difficulty right now with either social isolation or balancing the pressures of work and home life.

As a consultancy business where our team are regularly required to work remotely, we have developed a set of guidelines that you may wish to consider to help those in your organisation to work from home productively, comfortably and most importantly, safely.

home-worker

Find a suitable location in your home to work 

  • If possible, find a quiet area that has space for you to comfortably work at a desk on a laptop or PC and keyboard, and be able to use a mouse.
  • Designate the work area as your working space and use the same space each day.
  • Insofar as possible, avoid using your work space for anything else, therefore avoid using your kitchen / dining area.  
  • If it’s not possible to avoid the noise of a busy household, try a good pair of headphones to block out distractions.
  • Avoid bright lights and glare - for example near direct sunlight or with a bright light behind you.
  • Make sure there is space under the desk / table to move your legs. 
  • Ensure your work areas is well ventilated and avoid temperatures above 21 to reduce fatigue. 

Use a comfortable chair that allows you to sit correctly 

  • Consider how it supports your lower back and your position and height relative to your table/desk and workstation set up. 
  • If there is pressure from your seat in the back of your legs and knees, use a box or small stool as a footrest. 

Fine tune your setup

  • When using your laptop or PC, your forearms should be approximately horizontal to the keyboard in use and your  eyes should be the same height as the top of the screen.  You could consider raising your laptop on blocks or books if needed.
  • Make some space in front of the keyboard so you can rest your hands and wrists when you are not typing and try to keep your wrists straight when typing 
  • If using a mouse, position this within easy reach, so it can be used with a straight wrist.
  • Consider conducting a ‘Display Screen Equipment’ assessment’ - guidance may be available from your employer, or follow this link to the Health and Safety Executive.

Keep focussed and take regular breaks

  • home-worker-stress2Set, and get into a routine for your workday.  It’s important to have structure to break up the day, keep you moving and ensure you stay motivated…
  • Don’t work in your PJ’s – get up, dressed and ready as if you were going to the office.
  • In the same vein make sure that you develop a similar ritual at the end of the day to switch back to home life to maintain a good life/work balance. This could be a quick walk, shower, change of clothes or a few minutes of mindfulness.
  • Set milestones or goals for the day to keep yourself on track, this will prevent you being side-tracked by the numerous opportunities for distraction at home.
  • Consider the Pomodoro technique and use tools like your calendar to split your schedule in to chunks and take regular breaks to keep you active and moving.
  • Use a planner or to do lists to ensure you stay on top of your tasks.  Trello is a great system for managing your activity and goals and is free for individuals and small teams.  Trello supports Kanban style boards, which resonates well in organisations such as Unipart where Lean methods have taken root.
  • Consider turning off notifications and alert badges on your social media accounts and news apps to reduce interruptions.
  • Make sure you communicate your expectations with your household that you are working, and that you cannot be interrupted for help moving something, or to put a load of washing on.  However, since you are working from home, you could now choose to do some of the household chores in your lunch break.  It’s about finding the right balance. 
  • Get out and get some fresh air (if you can) as this will give you a change of scenery and increase motivation and productivity

IT support and procedures for home working

  • Make sure you know where to go to get help and support with IT issues.
  • If you don’t usually use them, take the time to learn tools like video conferencing before you need to use them for the first time.
  • Have a backup! This might be switching from video to a conference call, or the use of mobile internet should your connection drop.

Stay social

home-worker-social2
  • Leverage technology to keep in touch frequently with your colleagues via video calls rather than phone calls where possible.
  • Contact with colleagues shouldn’t be solely about work.  Scheduling a virtual morning coffee break for teams and colleagues can bring levity and humour into your day. 
  • Line managers should schedule regular catch ups with their staff.  Consider taking the initiative to arrange regular one-to-ones with your manager if these are not yet in place.  Remember that managing remote workers may also be new to them.

Look after yourself and your personal well being 

  • Try to eat healthily and drink regularly to stay hydrated 
  • Practice good hand hygiene, even though you are at home regularly wash hands for example after receiving post or deliveries
  • There are many Apps and social media influencers providing home fitness workouts. You may like to schedule this into your day as part of a lunch break that will support your wellbeing.

Try to stay positive

It’s a tough time for everyone. Hopefully these tips will help you find how to be productive when you work from home. If you do feel you are struggling, you and your family may be able to make use of advice and resources for home, work or financial issues and access counselling from an employee assistance scheme – all Unipart employees have access to LifeWorks. Other sources of help and support include citizens advice, online resources like Money Saving Expert, or a charity like Mind.

If you have any questions or comments, then please get in touch via the form below, or via our contact page.

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