There are lots of reasons why going remote is a great decision. Some of the major benefits include access to top talent, boosting team productivity, reducing turnover, as well as increasing business savings and improving overall employee wellness. As working from home has become the norm during the COVID-19 pandemic, it's left many of us thinking: why didn't we think of this before?!
On the negative side, nearly two thirds of staff have had musculoskeletal pain due to home or remote working and their poor "office" setup.
“For those people who are working at home on a long-term basis, the risks associated with display screen equipment must be controlled. This includes them doing workstation assessments at home”. Health & Safety Executive
Legally speaking, employers need to ensure a safe working environment for both temporary and permanent remote workers by carrying out the following:
- a desk assessment
- continuous regular assessments to reduce risks and ensure workers are taking breaks
- offering an eye test for workers if they request one
- providing information and training.
Ensuring your team has the right set-up is in everyone's interest. Put simply, a healthy worker is a happy worker. If your employees are comfortable working they will be less distracted, and get more work done.
Anyone working at a computer screen for more than an hour a day will need a desk assessment. Traditionally, desk assessments were provided by HR departments, but since teams have moved out of offices, you may have been asked by your employer to complete a tick box exercise about your remote office setup. At Vitrue Health, we think we can do a little bit better at this assessment by making it a personalised and useful experience for workers in this new remote setting.
Types of desk assessment
Simple advice to help when working at a screen all day:
- Take regular breaks, the recommendation is 5 minutes every hour. Why not try pomodoro working?
- Avoid being in the same position for a long time, change it up.
- Get up, stand up, move and do some stretches.
- Blink more! Did you know that when you look at a screen you blink 66% less! Change your focus by looking out the window.
Getting your desk correctly set up
Many companies are giving allowances to their employees in order to improve their home setup. First and foremost, it's always a good idea to conduct a desk assessment to find out what you could do to specifically improve your setup, as this differs per person. More generally however, there are some common and actionable changes that you can easily implement to make sure you are comfortable whilst working from home or remotely. Here are some ideas...
- Computer stand. Whether you are using a laptop or a desktop, a computer stand is essential to ensure your laptop is at the right height. The top of the screen should be in line with your eyes as you sit up straight. Most people are using laptops that are too low causing them to crane their necks causing an array of symptoms from neck pain to muscle tightness and headaches.
- Accessorise. With a computer stand you will need to ensure you have a separate mouse and keyboard for optimal arm and shoulder positioning. Your elbows should be at a 90 degree angle and your wrists straight when typing to avoid Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI). Having a separate mouse means you can give yourself a challenge, and your dominant hand a break, by swapping sides.
- Back Support. You can do this by using a towel rolled up or a fancy ergonomic chair, but you will need something to give your lower back some support and encourage good sitting posture.
- Designated space. Have a designated work space. If you are not lucky enough to have an office space then create one that you can pack away at the end of the day. For instance, you can use a room divider or foldaway desk.
- Plants . Did you know plants increase productivity by 15%? Make your work space greener. Not only will it look prettier and give you cleaner air but in doing so it will also increase your productivity, making your boss happier.
- Water bottle. Having water nearby is a great way to keep you hydrated throughout the day. It is recommended that you drink 2 litres of water per day. Try filling your bottle up only halfway so you give yourself an incentive to take more trips to the kitchen therefore getting more movement and breaks into your day.
Companies need to regularly check in with employees and investigate any reports of any of:
- pain experienced due their home work set up
- working longer hours and/or taking less breaks
- any adverse effects noted from home working.
Mental Health and Wellbeing
One area that's harder to navigate for managers and companies is employee mental health and wellbeing. This can be managed by regular one to one check-ins with your team.
There are lots of ways stress can manifest. Team members experiencing high levels of stress may experience:
- being less punctual and available than normal
- decreased performance
- emotional reactions
- less confidence
- loss of motivation
- appearing withdrawn
Having an open door policy, where employees feel comfortable to discuss these sensitive issues is essential for managers to help put in measures to help their team cope and manage.
The Omnipresent way
We care about remote workers' physical and mental health. That's why we have teamed up with VIDA. VIDA provides an interactive online assessment using AI and computer vision in order to give remote employees unique recommendations on how they can effectively improve their work stations, wherever they are. This quick, personalised and futuristic desk assessment perfectly suits modern working needs.
We believe everyone should have a personalised and actionable desk assessment to help them manage their new work setup, wherever that may be.