Working from home is much more common in the wake of physical distancing due to the COVID-19 virus spread. But it is still a workplace and proper safe practices must still apply, particularly as you will often be working alone. We do not know how long this pandemic will last and chances are we will be working from home longer than we want. We are creatures of habit and when our routine is disrupted, we go through emotions such as helplessness, despair, anger and frustration. To get back some semblance of control, try to mimic your previous routine as close as possible.
Set a schedule and stick to it. Working designated hours, and then stopping when those hours are up, give your brain time to work and time to rest. While working remotely does mean that there is added flexibility with your personal life schedule, it’s best to stick to a schedule where you can be productive, get your work done and call it a day when work hours are up.
Schedule breaks. Breaks are important to let your brain and body relax. Take a walk, go make some lunch or catch up with a loved one on the phone. Do not work yourself to the bone without letting yourself take a break away from screens, meetings and work. Studies have shown that breaks can significantly improve productivity levels and a person’s ability to focus.
We are creatures of habit, partly because routine helps us mentally and physically prepare for things. Whether it is having a cup of coffee every morning or taking your dog for a walk, creating a morning routine can greatly help you get ready for the workday at home. There are other things to consider as well. Working in your pajamas might work for some, but it might not be productive for others.
You will have extra time in the day if you are not commuting. Use the time you used to spend commuting to do some exercise. You may come out of this fitter and healthier that before you went in. Set fitness challenges with your co-workers and encourage them to meet their goals.
Whether you are working in a dedicated home office or at your kitchen table, good ergonomics is necessary to maintain good overall health and help prevent back, shoulder and neck pain. Adjust your chair so your feet rest on the floor and your knees are level with your hips. Keep everything you will need for the day, including your phone and documents, close to your body. Keep your wrist in a straight position, not bent up or down when typing. Use a phone headset if you have one. This will prevent you from cradling the phone between your neck and shoulder. Avoid glare by keeping bright light sources to the side of your screen.
Safety should be a top priority when working from home. You should always have a working smoke detector nearby. Fire extinguishers should be near the exit to your workspace and you should know how to use them. An evacuation plan should be in place. Your workspace should be cleared of hazards and all carpets secured to the floor.
Working from home can be a blessing, but it can also come with challenges. Telecommuting requires some adjustments in habits and routines and it is important that both employers and employees understand how to live and work healthily from home.