Working from home can mean a more relaxed working environment, however this can also lead to a lapse in good work practice. Setting yourself routines and health checks is an important part of taking care of yourself and being the most productive at your home office (or dining table!)
We all know that one of the common challenges with working from home is the many, often unavoidable, distractions. The flip side to this is the potential to just keep on working beyond a reasonable period. Being at home means you may not be as aware of how time is passing in the same way as in an office environment (unless you have young children circling you!) This can lead to an unhealthy amount of hours at your screen or desk without taking a break.
You need to treat your working from home day just as you would a day in the office, with regular breaks for drinks and food. Keeping well hydrated is very important, so keep a water bottle or jug of water nearby and get in the habit of taking a drink every time you break to rest your eyes.
If you are sitting at a desk make a point of standing up and walking around at least once every hour, even if it’s just to pace the room a few times. Being absorbed in our work is great, but it can block those cues our body is trying to send that it needs to stretch or be fed. Don’t ignore it!
If you are suddenly working from home while we are in lock down, you may not have the ideal setup for your new office environment. This doesn’t mean you should ignore the basics of a healthy work station. Below is an example of how your desk should ideally be set up – if this isn’t achievable at the moment just make whatever adjustments you can.
If you are spending hours at your desk each day, your body will need some relief. If you don’t have an opportunity for a proper walk or other form of exercise, here are some simple stretches you can do at your desk:
Neck: Slowly turn to one side and hold. Repeat several times.
Shoulders: Roll forwards and backwards using wide movements. Repeat several times.
Lower Back: Sit back and relax, then slowly bend forward. Hold this position and then repeat several times.
Wrists: Carefully push your fingers back so that your hand bends at your wrist. Repeat for both hands several times.
Hand: Form a tight fist and then spread your fingers as wide as you can. Repeat several times.
We all know that staring at a screen for too long can damage our eyesight, but do you actually take steps to minimise this risk? At a minimum you should shift your eye’s focus at least once every hour. Do this by looking at something further away than your screen for 10 seconds, and repeat three more times. It’s harder than you think!
Proper lighting is also an important factor. Reduce glare coming from external windows even if this means partially or fully closing your curtains or blinds. Turn on a light if needed, especially if you’re referring to physical papers or documents. Check that the brightness of your screen is set at a good level - bright enough to see clearly but not so bright that it’s causing a glare (if you don’t have an anti-glare screen fitted). Dirt and dust can accumulate on your screen so get into the habit of wiping it with an appropriate cloth.
For more detailed advice, check out these links to safety guides for home workers and their employers: