The standard office is usually set up to be productive. However, as the current Covid-19 situation forces staff from non-essential businesses to work from home, the temporary remote spaces being created across the country will come with challenges, and may lead to health problems. From a physical point of view, non-ergonomic workstations cause bad posture and potential pain later on, while in relation to mental health, remote working can be lonely, especially when you haven’t done it before. Many people are also carrying additional worries on their shoulders such as elderly parents, no childcare, and financial concerns. 

This is why it is important that employees are properly transitioned into comfortable and productive temporary home-working stations to ensure they remain healthy and efficient.

The top tips I have for employees to keep healthy while working from home include:

1. WORK YOUR NORMAL WORK HOURS

It is important mentally to keep to your normal work schedule as much as possible. If you work a typical 9-5 job, then work within that timeframe. Get up in the morning as per usual, get dressed for work, and focus on the job in hand for those designated hours. When you normally have lunch, then have your lunch. When you normally finish work, then close the laptop and switch off.  Embracing routine can have a huge positive impact on your mental health.

2. HAVE A DEDICATED WORKPLACE

It is important to have a dedicated workstation set up in your home during this time. Not only mentally does it offer stability, it will also help prevent poor posture when done right. Sitting on the couch, with a laptop on your lap, causes your body to slouch. Prolonged work this way will seriously impact your health. I’d advise to replicate an office set-up as much as possible, with a desk and chair if feasible, and a keyboard and mouse. Avoid working on your couch completely.

3. GET ACTIVE

Fight the urge to stay sitting and sedentary and schedule active time during the day. Use your lunchbreak to go for a 20 minute walk, stand up every hour and stretch, or take a walk around the house when on a phone call.  These are simple suggestions but will assist in significantly lowering anxiety levels.

4. COMMUNICATE, COMMUNICATE, COMMUNICATE

One-to-one video calling can really help alleviate social isolation. If you have to make a call, especially with a colleague, try a face-to-face video call via a platform like WhatsApp or Teams. Doing this instead of sending them an email, or even instead of a normal call, allows for a greater sense of normality and will help manage isolation and loneliness. 

The above tips have been compiled by  Sharon Clearly, Occupational Health Manager. To learn more about how Cognate Health can work with your employees, email reception@cognatehealth.ie.

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