Home Workers – Tips and Guidance

For many of us, working from home is a new concept – and one that we had very little time to prepare for.

We have put together these tips and guidance to help you adapt to home working, whilst keeping in mind your physical and mental health.

We must stress here that we are not giving expert advice  – we are simply sharing tips that we have been given along the way.

Create Work and Home Life Balance

As well as being important to establish a work routine, it is equally important to ensure that you can separate your work and life.

Separate work space

Although not always possible, if you can, create a designated area for working away from your living space. Being able to shut the door on work at the end of the day works wonders for creating that work, life balance.

Take regular breaks

Don’t be tempted to sit at your computer for hours without a break. Ensure that you make the most of your lunch break – away from your machine, as well as taking regular breaks away from your screen throughout the day.

Claim back your commute time

Look at the time that you would normally have been commuting as reclaimed time. Use this time at the end of the work day to wind down – take exercise, get some fresh air, read…. Anything to get your mind away from work ready for your free time.

Ensure a Comfortable Working Area

Good posture

Sitting correctly is key, here is a link to checklist and video showing the best seating and working position to minimize stress on the body: https://www.hse.gov.uk/toolbox/workers/home.htm

Your head should be level, wrists straight, equal pressure throughout your body, lower back supported and relaxed shoulders.

Regular screen breaks

Screen and position breaks are important not only for clearing your mind for a short while, but also to allow you time for your body to be up and moving out of the chair.

Reduce the risk of visual problems:

  • Position your screen to avoid glare from windows or lights
  • Ensure your screen is kept clean of dust and dirt
  • Use a desk lamp to improve screen visibility
  • Ensure that your monitor or screen colour settings are not too harsh
  • Each 30 minutes look away from your screen in to the distance. Focus on something 30 metres away for 30 seconds on each screen break.

Prevent stiff legs, ankles and feet:

  • Under the desk, rotate your ankles in circles, one way and then the other
  • Stand up, march on the spot or walk around the room for a few seconds to improve blood flow
  • Stand on your tiptoes, stretch upwards as tall as you can – this will release tension in your ankles, legs, back, arms and legs

Prevent wrist and arm ache:

  • With arms outstretched to the front, draw large circles with your wrists, one way and then the other
  • Stretch arms out to the side then as high as you can above your head to stretch your arms, wrists and back
  • Interlock your fingers, push them out in front of you with palms facing outward

Reduce tension in neck and shoulders:

  • Sitting up straight, tilt your head down to one shoulder and then slowly over to the other shoulder
  • Move your shoulders in small circles, one way and then the other
  • Slowly bring your chin to your chest, hold for 3 seconds then release

To prevent back strain:

  • Stand up and walk around every hour to ensure that you are not staying in the same position all day
  • Slowly lean your torso over to one side of the chair and then the other
  • Stand up and put your hands together, elbows out then slowly twist left and right

Look after your Mental Health

Working alone, especially when you have been previously used to spending your days as part of a team, can be tough on your mental health. It is important to notice changes to the way that you normally feel. For support for stress and your mental health, the Mind charity website is full of useful information: https://www.mind.org.uk/workplace/mental-health-at-work/taking-care-of-yourself/tips-for-employees/

Recognise signs of stress

It is important to admit to yourself when you are feeling stressed or are reacting to stress in a way that is unusual for you. An example of this may be that you are finding yourself more irritable than usual or that you are finding it difficult to focus on tasks. If you are feeling this way, take a step back, talk to someone and tell them how you are feeling.

Take time out

Utilise your lunch break or commute time, ensure that you exercise a little each day, get some fresh air and chat to a friend.

Avoid the feeling of being alone

As well as staying in touch with friends and family during lockdown, it is equally important during your work day for you to have regular contact with your colleagues. Schedule video conferences or meetings, text each other or place a short call, these small interactions each day can have a very positive impact on your mental health whilst home working.

If you are feeling that your new work space is too quiet, listen to the radio. The radio (as opposed to music alone) can give the feeling of having someone else in the room with you, reducing the feeling of isolation.

Use the support available

At the end of the day, we are all in this together. Utilise the support made available by your employer to enable you to do your job from home in a productive and healthy way.

Stay safe all