Working from Home Tips for Success
Ultra Sports Clinic offers some remote work tips to make your home office environment safe and enjoyable.
For millions of people in the UK, adjusting to working from home during the Coronavirus lockdown has been a challenge. As the restrictions are slowly being relaxed and we are being encouraged to return to some semblance of (new) normal, we have some tough decisions to make. Do you want to go back to the office, or would you prefer to continue working remotely? If you’re in the latter camp (and your employer is agreeable) then we have some tips that can make the experience of working from home more enjoyable.
Perhaps you’ve been struggling with a temporary desk setup that is just not sustainable for the longer term. Maybe you still haven’t quite found the ideal structure for your day that allows for exercise and relaxation as well as the level of productivity that your boss expects.
Many of our clients have taken advantage of our online consultations during the lockdown and a lot of them have been dealing with neck and back pain. In many cases this is due to not having an ergonomic desk setup, and studies have shown the detrimental effects on the body of incorrect posture and prolonged sitting at a desk. But that’s not always the only explanation.
Stress can build up in different parts of the body and make us more prone to injury, which is why we need to think about multiple other factors. In these strange times, it’s not always easy to identify how the changes to our daily lives are impacting our physical and mental health, both of which are inextricably linked to our productivity. If we consider these factors holistically, we can find ways to overcome the negative impact and you can finally enjoy the benefits of working from home.
Your workspace environment.
Having a dedicated, separate room is ideal, but obviously not possible for everyone.
Try to find an area of your home which has good lighting and fresh air. Take some time to rearrange the furniture and cordon off one area that will be your dedicated workspace. You might surprise yourself with your interior design skills and create space you didn’t think was possible.
Try to avoid working from your bedroom. If your mind begins to associate that space with work, it may affect your sleep. Surround yourself with some plants. They can be a calming influence and they help purify the air.
Desk setup fundamentals.
The height and placement of your keyboard, mouse and monitor are crucial, but these factors are also dependent on the height of your desk and chair. The top of your computer monitor should be in line with the top of your head, so that your eye level is 25-30% below the top of the screen without your head leaning forward. There are many monitor stands/risers on the market, but you could just use some books. Your keyboard and mouse should be at the same level as your elbows. If you’re using a laptop, think about investing in an external keyboard and mouse.
Adjust the height of your chair so that your knees are at a 90-degree angle, with your feet flat on the floor, your spine straight and lower back supported by the chair. You may need to readjust all of these elements multiple times before you feel comfortable. Listen to your body.
Consider a standing desk.
It’s a great way to get your body moving and relieve the pressure on your lower back but be aware that prolonged periods of standing can take a toll on your lower legs and feet. Ensure you stand upright with your weight distributed evenly on both feet. Wear cushioned footwear or invest in a standing mat. It can take time to build up the muscles needed for extended periods at a standing desk. Be prepared to try it for 20-40 minutes then return to sitting down.
If you do opt for a standing situation, the same principles concerning the height of your keyboard and monitor still apply. You might even want to invest in a desk that converts easily from sitting down to standing up, then you’ll have the best of both worlds.
This may sound obvious, but if you rely on coffee or tea to help your mind focus, it’s super important to drink fresh water too. This not only counteracts the dehydrating effects of caffeine, but more frequent trips to the bathroom will give your eyes a necessary break and get your body moving.
Don’t worry about breaking your concentration, sometimes taking some time out can help your productivity. How many times has an idea come to you in the shower?
When you switch off from something that you’ve been focusing on intensely, you give your brain the space it needs to process the information.
Move your body.
Even if you’re doing some form of exercise outside of working hours, it’s also important to keep your body moving throughout the day, even if it’s just during a short coffee break. Listen to your body and notice any pain or tension that has accumulated.
If you’re committed to multiple online meetings via Zoom or Teams, perhaps you could switch off your camera and use that time to get up from your desk and move around the room. Do some gentle squats or leg raises, use the time to stretch. Grab a tennis ball and work out some of the tension that’s built up in your shoulders and upper back from all that time sitting at your desk. This can be done against a wall if you’re short on time or lying down on a yoga mat as part of your longer exercise routine. The tennis ball method is also great to relieve the tension in your hips and lower back. Be gentle with these techniques though, always avoid rolling across any bones to avoid injury.
You’ve got this!
This is a difficult time and we’re all still navigating our way through it. Be kind and gentle to yourself. Accept that it will be an ongoing process in the foreseeable future to develop the coping mechanisms and tools that you need to get through this. Don’t worry, we’re always here if you need us.