Ergonomics solutions experts Fellowes have delivered some home working home truths with their most recent commissioned study, titled as ‘New Way of Working’.
Last year, the UK saw one of the most drastic changes in recent history to the way in which we work, with the Coronavirus pandemic forcing a shift to home working and the carrying out of work duties for most sectors being done remotely.
As we enter the second month of 2021, home working has become the new normal for many, but as a result, fresh concerns are being raised about the impact it is having on ergonomics and overall wellbeing.
Perhaps most importantly, the need for efficient and effective home office equipment has become vital to keep workers at their productive best.
Taking this shift to remote working into account, a brand-new study commissioned by Fellowes titled as ‘New Way of Working’ has interviewed 7000 employees not just in the UK, but across Europe to better understand some of the more detrimental effects that home working may be having on workers.
Here is what they found.
Home Working Home Truths
The extensive study, which includes resources such as fact sheets and an official report, highlight several alarming statistics associated with home working.
Some of the main ones to take away from the extensive study include:
• One third (35%) of home workers expressed that they have experienced stress and anxiety whilst working remotely
• More than 1 in 3 (37%) said they have suffered or are suffering from a sore or aching back.
• 65% (more than two thirds) of home workers have bought home office equipment with their own money with the average spend amounting to £1,300.
• Over half of employees surveyed commented that their home workstation has caused more aches, strains, and pains than their usual corporate workstation setup.
• 52% of workers have not carried out a workstation risk assessment or had one carried out on their behalf.
As a result, the home working home truths that Fellowes are presenting to both employees and employees are straight forward in nature – home working is having a damaging impact on mental and physical health and inadequate home workstations are putting our bodies at risk.
So, what can be done to improve our health and wellbeing whilst working from home?
Home Working Health and Wellbeing Tips
Enlisting the help and expertise of Emma Crumpton, an expert in the field of Ergonomics and Physiotherapy, Crumpton provides some key guidance and advice on how to deal with home working and ensuring you have an efficient space to work from.
Tip 1 – Take More Breaks and Move More
Crumpton’s first piece of advice is for home workers to take advantage of regular breaks and move regularly.
“Don’t sit for long periods, regular movement is important.
Get up from your chair 2-3 times an hour for 30-60 seconds or 5-10 minutes every hour and perform micro exercises (simple chair-based movements) for 2 minutes in every hour.”
Tip 2 – Consider a Stand/Sit Approach While Working
If you are finding it difficult to balance your time sitting down at your desk and taking regular movement breaks, then Crumpton provides an alternative approach you can try and implement which allows for a mixed seated and standing way of working.
“Standing to work can help to keep you mobile and moving.
A standing desk is deal or alternatively, put your laptop on any flat surface at a standing height.
A good regime could be 20 minutes sitting, 8 minutes standing, 2 minutes moving.”
Tip 3 – Improve Your Working Environment
During time spent in a home working space, Crumpton advises that ensuring you are creating the right environment for focus and productivity is crucial, with special attention being paid to the room’s temperature and lighting setup.
“Temperature should be comfortable, ideally between 21 – 21 degrees.
Let fresh air in to improve air quality – consider air purifiers or humidifiers.
Plants and day light can improve your atmosphere and improve productivity”
Discussing lighting setups, she adds:
“Illuminate the work area rather than the screen, add a lamp if necessary.
Ensure there is no glare or reflection on your screen.
For every 20 minutes on screen, spend 20 seconds looking at something 6 metres away – to minimize digital eye strain.”
Tip 4 – Be Prepared for Each Working Day
Ensuring you are correctly prepared and organised ahead of each day spent working from home remains an important part of staying on top of your mental and physical wellbeing.
“Routine and scheduling can help keep you grounded, while a “to do” list and goals can help keep you focused.
Remember to sleep well and get enough “down time”.
Gentle exercise and time outside are very good for both physical and mental wellbeing.”
Tip 5 – Avoid Your Working Space Becoming Cluttered
Allowing your working space to become cluttered can increase your overall stress and anxiety levels, especially in high pressure situations.
Crumpton suggests that ensuring your workspace isn’t cluttered and is carefully organised will help you remain calm and more at ease when working remotely.
“Organise your work files, magazine and other materials into labelled storage boxes and desk drawers so that you can reduce clutter and find things quickly when you need them.”
To view more home working home truths from Fellowes ‘New Way of Working study, please click here.