With many businesses moving to a more permanent work-from-home policy for staff, it has become necessary for staff to take responsibility for their own home office safety checklist. Unfortunately, companies are less inclined to get involved in their staff’s health and safety issues while working from home.
This means that employee retention can sometimes depend on ensuring a safe environment in which to work.
So, mental health and physical comfort are easy to ignore when working around family members, but leaning on a kitchen table and avoiding household objects for 8 hours a day is not conducive to good health when working remotely.
But poor ergonomics is only one of many workplace health & safety issues employees face while enjoying a welcome break from office life.
We’ve researched the following safety tips that can help to improve your home office setup and avoid distractions.
Buy A Comfortable Chair
It’s easy to discount the amount of strain that sitting at a desk all day can have on your body.
Headaches, neck and upper back pain, lower back pain, sciatica, carpal tunnel syndrome, and pinched nerves negatively affect your health and productivity.
A rolling chair that is adjustable for height provides lumbar support, and is rated for your weight, will make your daily schedule much more comfortable, and encourage employees to spend more time at their desks.
You will also avoid common postural problems associated with hunching over a desk or working from an unsuitable position such as your bed, kitchen counter, or dining room table.
Use A Desk or Kitchen Table
While it may seem like a good idea to roll over in bed and work with a cushion behind your back, prolonged periods spent in this position will play havoc with your neck, back, and leg muscles.
An office desk or kitchen table is the best place to complete your work to save hours of agony.
The height of your desk is vital for achieving the correct ergonomic position. It is ideal if your elbows touch the table when sitting up straight. If the desk is too low, you will end up hunching over, which is a recipe for strained neck muscles as they try to support the weight of your head.
A too-high desk will bring your hands into a position that puts additional strain on your wrists. Anyone who has experienced excruciating pain due to carpal tunnel syndrome will understand that ensuring an optimum hand position is crucial to long-term productivity.
Ensure You Have Enough Light
Eye strain can cause daily, low-grade headaches and affect the quality of your vision over time.
If you are constantly squinting to see your work or find yourself developing low-grade headaches, then the lighting in your workspace could be the culprit.
The ideal light source is natural light. But failing that, a daylight bulb either overhead or in a desk lamp will save you hours of squinting.
Make Time to Speak with Co-Workers
The downside of working from home is that the usual company communication channels aren’t available to contact your co-workers.
With Zoom calls, Whatsapp, and various other communication apps available, you will attend meetings virtually, which doesn’t leave much time to connect socially with your colleagues.
When it gets stressful at home, a call from one of your colleagues can sometimes help to get you through a rough day.
Schedule Times To Go for A Walk
It’s easy to get wrapped up in what you’re doing, especially if you enjoy your job.
Working from home often blurs the boundaries between work and home time, so you must take regular breaks.
The best way to do this is to make an exercise appointment with yourself – and then keep it.
Install Anti-Virus Protection
Without an IT department to look after your computer, it’s easy to forget that we live in an era of hackers and other scammers.
If your company doesn’t provide anti-virus software for its computer users, it’s best to install your own.
The last thing you want is to end up with confidential information being stolen or your data destroyed.
Don’t Overload Electrical Sockets
You may not have sufficient electrical sockets to hook up all your electrical equipment.
If this is the case, remember that it is best to be safe rather than sorry.
So, invest in extension cables and adapters with built-in protection to avoid overloading your domestic electrical supply with work equipment.
Keep Cables & Extension Leads Tucked Away
Cable management is vital when setting up your home office.
It’s easy to forget that you have other electrical cords and other leads from computer peripherals lying about.
To avoid tripping over them, use cable ties and other cable management devices to neatly store all the leads and cables.
Recognise Aches & Strains
Recognizing when something is going wrong is halfway to finding a solution.
When using poorly chosen equipment, the initial aches and pains can quickly develop into severe problems.
If you start to experience discomfort, make a plan to fix the root cause of the problem before it gets out of control.
Create Your Work Routine
Without a manager watching over you, it’s easy to take it easy with your morning routine.
Even when you are diligent and manage your time well, it’s easy to become distracted.
Create a schedule that suits you and stick to it to combat this. You can always change it if you find it doesn’t quite work for you.
Remote workers face several challenges when working from home.
To create a safe working environment, your safety concerns must be addressed before they become a significant problem.
Safety requirements such as a first aid kit, fire extinguisher, smoke alarm, and occupational health and safety standards contribute to a safe work environment. Still, they are sadly lacking when working from home.
I hope that the few tips we provided in this article help you enjoy your remote work environment without negatively affecting your family members.