At the start of COVID-19, we set up our at-home workspaces in a temporary fashion. The old office was just waiting in the wings for our return. This would all be over soon, anyway. Right? Two-and-a-half years later, many of us have since acclimatised to a permanent hybrid setup. The retail industry has a vast number of workers replacing head office with home office for good, but some are only just starting to recognise that the change is permanent. The problem is, most of our at-home
t-home setups haven’t been carefully designed or approved by health and safety teams. We’re all still laptopping-it from the sofa, or the kitchen counter, or the kids’ tiny homework desk. When offices are designed poorly, it can lead to fatigue, frustration, and lack of productivity. These workers are rarely the most productive, and they often develop costly and painful musculoskeletal (soft tissue) injuries and disorders (MSDs). We spend thousands of dollars to ensure we have the correct mattress for the best sleep for eight hours at night, yet we look to spend $99 on a chair to provide the best posture and lumbar support for eight hours in the day. It doesn’t add up. Preventing head and neck injuries Minimise the risks of headaches and neck stiffness by making sure you maintain a good posture while at your desk. You can do this by placing your monitor directly in front of you, with the top of the screen at or slightly below eye level. If you are using a laptop, you can use a laptop riser for more comfortable and easy viewing. An ergonomic set-up at home is as consequential as one at work. Take a real break It’s critical to separate your work and home life, and that means putting ‘home work’ on pause during designated ‘work work’ time where possible. Your lunch break is not the time to throw on a load of washing or quickly vacuum the lounge room. If the weather is great, head outside to eat. Go for a walk around the block and create that necessary physical and mental separation. Don’t scoff down your food in a mood of harried preoccupation about work matters. Get dressed for work (at home) Try to separate work and home, even if they’re technically the same thing. Consider getting dressed for work, leave the house and walking or driving to a local café and then returning home. Start on tasks in a frame of mind that you are attending work. At the end of the day do the reverse: walk or drive to the fruit shop or corner store and then return home to be present at home with your roommates or family. If you don’t make an effort to compartmentalise your life you can be lulled into a 14-hour day at your computer, doing some housework, going back to your desk, watching a daytime soap and then returning back for more work. Before you know it, it’s 10pm and time for bed. Make sure at least a portion of your day is spent beyond a twenty-metre radius. Find the right chair A suitable chair will provide ergonomic support, with an array of choices around style, foam density and adjustability options. Your office chair seat height should be easily adjustable, and allow the user to have their feet flat on the floor, with thighs horizontal and arms even with the height of the desk. Invest in a sit-stand desk While sitting is fine for short periods, it can be useful to invest in a sit-stand desk for longer-term, flexible comfort. Whether the whole desk or an adaptation device, a sit-stand desk is a great purchase to make in your health and comfort. It is well proven that sitting all day is detrimental to your health. If you are not used to standing whilst working, aim to start with just 30 minutes a day, even if that is three 10-minute blocks, or the first 30 minutes after lunch. With these tips in place, you’ll be well on your way to an office setup that will make working from home seamless, comfortable and productive.