If you don’t have a home office, you’re definitely not alone. It’s important to set yourself up with spaces to work from that will be kind to your body (and mind). Of course, a proper desk and office chair are best but if that’s not possible, try these alternatives:
If there are other people in your house, try to work from a space that’s as far away from distractions as possible. For example, avoid ‘high traffic’ areas such as the lounge, kitchen or hallways. A dining room or spare bedroom with a door that closes is ideal (but not THE bedroom because that’s a slippery slope!). If you don’t have access to such a space, then try sitting with your back to the room you’re in and using noise cancelling headphones instead.
If you’re using an upright chair, use a cushion to pad the seat. If this means that your feet no longer touch the floor, put another cushion or a box under them as this will cut the risk of leg strain. Next, elevate your laptop so that the monitor is at eye level. Use file boxes, books, chopping blocks or whatever else is to hand.
If you don’t have a table to work from - or even if you do, to mix things up a bit - try finding your own standing desk. This could be a kitchen worktop or an ironing board stood against the wall. To give your body a helping hand, alternate between sitting and standing throughout the day.
Hunching over a laptop is inevitable if you don’t have the right set-up and it can quickly cause back, neck, wrist or arm strain. Getting a keyboard and a mouse is an important first step to improve your work set-up.
The sofa is one of the worst possible places to work from. Try to avoid it all costs - your body will thank you for it. If there’s really no where else, make sure to set a timer to get up, walk around and stretch every 30 minutes.
If you’re using an upright chair, such as dining room chair, in addition to the trick with the cushions mentioned in point one, you can also make it more comfortable by draping a thick towel over the back of the chair. If you need extra lumbar support, roll up a towel and place it between the chair and your lower back.
It is more important than ever for you to move your body around regularly. Set an alarm for a five minute break every hour. Stretch your arms towards the sky and to the sides. Try lying flat on the ground with your legs at a 90 degree angle to stretch the muscles in your back. Walk around while you’re on the phone if you can, and run up and down stairs if you have them. If you can alternate between sitting and standing positions while working, then do.
Start and finish at as normal a time as possible, dress sensibly for work (no ties needed, but definitely no PJs!), make sure you take a lunch break and set an alarm to take regular five minute stand-up and movement breaks.
When we’re all working from different physical locations, it’s crucial that our teams are all working from the same information. This will reduce duplication and people feeling out of the loop and improve morale, coordination and efficiency. Centralise as much information as you can and set clear team and individual goals and duties for the day.
Say hello in the mornings, ask people how they are, say goodbye before you clock off. There’s scope when working from afar to become isolated and frustrated and in such difficult times emotions can run high. Be kind to yourself and others!
It’s good to stay in touch but it’s also a busy time. With many people relying on email, ‘inbox overload’ can become very real. Think carefully who to cc into emails and whether it’s necessary to reply to all. Bear in mind that the person you’re emailing may be working through scores of daily messages – or, if they’re working on-site, they may not have time to regularly pick up emails. For quick questions, Skype IM can be useful or if something is urgent, there’s always the phone.
At Hospsicare, we all strive to do this everyday. When working remotely, we can't see our colleagues doing this as readily. To counter this, flag mistakes or when deadlines could be missed. Only make a promise when you know you can deliver and give your colleagues a status report before you log-off for the day.