We recently ran a session with the wonderful Joanne Allpress from Allpress Ergonomics, who offered some fantastic practical advice about workplace set up when at home. With some useful insights for both us as agency owners and our teams, Joanne was kind enough to produce a quick blog to share her top tips from the session too.
The Office for National Statistics has revealed that in April 2020, 86% of those working from home in the UK were doing so as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This meant that many of us had to adapt to a new working environment, previously used to the structure and comfort of office working we now had to find those spaces in our own homes.
Somewhat frustratingly at that time, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) stated that risk assessments of those working from home ‘temporarily’ were not required. This meant that so many of us were working from our sofas, beds, dining room tables or kitchen counters.
Fortunately, around September 2020, when the ‘temporary’ working from home period had already lasted for 6 months, the HSE altered their guidance to say that control measures should be put in place for someone working from home, whether permanently or temporarily. Completing a DSE workstation assessment for your employees can help you understand what control measures may be required or beneficial. And with the updated guidance, it means you now have a responsibility as an employer to support your team’s working from home set up.
”And with the updated guidance, it means you now have a responsibility as an employer to support your team’s working from home set up.Joanne Allpress - Allpress Ergonomics
Take a look at the highlights from our recent session with Joanne here…
Since March 2020 I have spoken to somewhere in the region of 400 people working from home (both in the UK and globally), and there are certainly some common ‘homeworking set-ups’. The vast majority of employees are working directly from their laptop, placed on their dining room table, sitting on a static, wooden, dining room chair, logging into Zoom call after Zoom call. Hands up if that is still you!?
There are a number of issues with this, and workflow could exacerbate issues such as back, neck, upper and lower limb problems along with visual issues, fatigue and stress. However, there are a few simple steps that you can take to help improve this scenario:
- Check the chair’s height and consider sitting on a cushion. Dining room tables are usually higher than an office desk and this can lead to shrugging of the shoulders. Your forearms should be level with the work surface, with your hips slightly above your knees and your feet firmly on the ground. If your feet come off the floor, consider using a box as a footrest.
- Consider using another cushion along the back of the chair, or a rolled-up towel, to increase the level of postural support, specifically to your lower back to help prevent slouched postures.
- Get yourself another keyboard and mouse to plug into your laptop and raise the laptop on top of books or boxes so the top of the display is roughly in line with your eye level. This can help to prevent forward postures that can increase discomfort in the neck and upper back.
- Remember to move and change your posture regularly. Consider keeping the camera off on group video calls so you could walk around the room you’re in whilst listening to the meeting. This will also help to provide you with a visual break. Additionally, try and organise meetings so they last for 45 – 55 minutes so you have at least a 5-minute buffer before joining the next one.
Whilst the above can certainly help, there are often many other things that go overlooked when working from home. Conducting DSE Workstation Assessments can not only help keep your organisation compliant, but it can help employees work more comfortably and efficiently.
Joanne is the Owner and Ergonomic Consultant at Allpress Ergonomics, with years of experience and a passion for exploring ways to help the human body work as efficiently as possible.