Earlier this year, millions of us were forced, quite suddenly, to do our jobs from home. This might have given many of us cause to jump for joy – after all, working from home was, just a year ago, considered a privilege that only a handful of generous employers were willing to grant.
But there are definite downsides to working from home, and many of them stem from the worker in question not having taken steps to convert their home into a suitable workspace. Slumping on a sofa with a laptop all day might seem like the height of luxury – as might getting up at 8:50 to clock in at 9:00. These practices, however, aren’t ideal as far as productivity is concerned.
Instantprint is a UK-based printing company specializing in flyers and leaflets. They polled home-workers from across the country, and determined that just 17% of them have a dedicated office space.
This is a recipe for distraction, interruption and a general lack of productivity.
In the long-term, a greater concern might stem from the threat of home working to health. Of course, staying at home all day makes it possible to avoid exercise altogether. But a more insidious threat comes from the furniture we’re sitting on, and the desks at which we’re sitting.
A 500-person study conducted in the second week of lockdown by the Institute of Employment Studies found that large majorities of people are experiencing aches and pains where they weren’t before. 58%, 56%, and 55% of respondents respectively experienced neck, shoulder and back pain.
These symptoms are often a precursor to chronic postural problems and muscle imbalances. Put simply, if they’re not addressed, then they’re going to get worse. We can expect that the nation’s physiotherapists may find themselves extremely busy once the lockdown chickens come home to roost.
So what’s the solution? Let’s begin with the thing that you’re sitting on all day. A comfortable chair that supports good posture makes a worthwhile investment. There are some ultra-premium options out there, but there are also some more affordable ones that’ll make a marked difference.
The cost of these items will in many cases easily outweigh the time and effort of corrective exercise and therapy. It might seem galling to have to fork out hundreds, or even thousands, of pounds on office furniture, especially if you don’t see yourself working from home for the long-term. Make sure that your chair is high enough that you aren’t reaching forward for your keyboard and mice – elbows should be at right angles.
Another investment you might make is in a dedicated monitor. When you’re looking down at a laptop screen, your neck will inevitably tilt forward. A dedicated monitor set up at eye level will eliminate this.
Finally, it’s worth investing in a headset that’ll allow you to participate in video conferences and take phone calls without subjecting the person on the other end of the line to the sound of their own voice.
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