We're many months into the coronavirus pandemic and a return to office life as we knew it still seems a long way off, if it comes at all. When settling in for the long-term "new normal", there's a question every employer needs to be asking their staff: "are you sitting comfortably?" Employees can begin by asking themselves the same question and taking a look at their home working set-up.
Incorrect equipment and bad posture can lead to musculoskeletal issues and, in the short-term, aches and pains. As working from home looks less like a short-term adjustment and more like a reality of working life, employees need to take this into account and let their employer know if they need support. We can show you how.
DSE, Equipment and Posture
Not everyone will have access to a separate home office. But it can help to have a dedicated "working space" – even if it's a corner of a room that is not used for anything else. This makes it easier to set up display screen equipment in the right way.
Correctly set up DSE will have a huge effect on a worker's physical health and wellbeing. Crouching over a laptop might not do too much damage immediately (aside from some neck ache, perhaps!) but over weeks, it can add up to a serious issue. It can also make existing conditions worse.
You need to make sure you're sitting in the right position. Make sure your back is straight, your arms are supported and your feet are touching the ground. Regularly check this so you're not falling into a slouching position or sitting in exactly the same position for hours at a time.
Stretch and Move
It can be easy to get engrossed in work and suddenly realise several hours have passed without getting up and moving! Set up a timer if needed and make sure you get up and about at least every hour – even if it's just to pop downstairs and get a drink.
Our Spinal Awareness short course explores some of the stretching exercises that you can do at your desk or in your workspace. They can help to prevent many health problems and, apart from the physical effects, it's psychologically beneficial.
Here are some other ideas for keeping active:
- Take a lunch time walk. It's a great way to keep active at a regular time and breaks up the day. When working from home, it can be easy to go entire days without leaving the house; lunch time brisk walks help to counter this.
- Have a pre-work workout. One for the morning people, perhaps! Why not use some of the time you used to use commuting on an exercise regime? You'll certainly feel awake after that…
- Mix up your workspace. If you're sick of sitting in the same place, why not move to another room and work in the kitchen for a bit? This has to be balanced with the need to have properly set-up DSE – but for a brief respite, if you can, it can help to mix it up a bit.
You don't need to do a full-blown fitness regime to keep active throughout the day. Just a couple of minor breaks and a lunch-time walk can make a world of difference to your physical and mental wellbeing.