The corporate world has completely changed since the pandemic began and employees should be careful about keeping a business-as-usual attitude. When working in familiar surroundings (i.e., remotely from home), we can be lulled into being complacent as loved ones play and relax in proximity.
As work-from-home workers now assume the dual role of homeowner and occupational safety manager, they are responsible for minimizing the risk of spreading disease, reducing mental stress, and preventing injury. Changes to office health protocols apply within the household. Just like a workplace environment, a home workstation should be safe, comfortable, and foster productivity and overall employee wellness.
Here are some tips.
Follow Covid protocols
Seventy percent of employees work from home, according to a May 2020 Gallup poll, and 25 percent would like to telecommute permanently. It's prudent to observe Covid safety protocols at a WFH environment since these protect yourself and loved ones.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises businesses to check that the ventilation is working properly, as well as to increase circulation of outdoor air as much as possible, since these prevent the spread of germs and allergens. And while pets can't spread the virus, you may want to frequently bathe these furry creatures.
Secondly, put safety signs within common areas (such as your WFH space, living room, and parking garage) to remind friends, neighbors, and family that they should wear a mask and maintain physical distancing. If you have frequent visitors, wear a face shield or mask and place hand sanitizers around your home and WFH workstation.
Lead by example at home as you would at the office.
Use ergonomic furnishings
Fifty-seven percent of workers say employers are giving them an option to work remotely, according to an April 2020 Gallup poll. Employees who transition to a home workplace can face extra occupational hazards.
In a regular office environment, managers typically encourage sick colleagues to see the doctor or stay home, but when you're working from home, this isn't possible with an ill child or spouse. With dual responsibilities of homeowner and occupational safety manager, it's important to seek ways to reduce home and workplace related hazards such as dangerous electrical wiring, moldy ventilation, or a slippery staircase.
I recently spoke with Mr. Duy Huynh, founder of Autonomous.ai (a California-based supplier of ergonomic furniture). He says the pandemic has greatly boosted demand for safer ergonomic equipment and tools, as WFH professionals pursue comfort, convenience, and injury-free telecommuting.
Americans typically spend 40 to 50 hours at the office, but remote work can bump that to 60 hours or more as employees tend to devote more time facing a computer. According to Huynh, Autonomous is seeing more orders for standing desks, ergonomic office chairs, and home-office accessories. Ergonomic equipment prevents injury, reduces pain, boosts productivity, and improves work morale.
Establish rules and common ground
You'll need to clearly establish and get agreement from all family members, roommates, neighbors, and friends about the new ground rules in play. You care for every member of the household, and so it's only appropriate to expect the observation of health measures that keep everyone safe.
Lastly, plan your workday in advance to give you the ability to clearly distinguish between work and home life. When these lines are blurred, it can be difficult to consistently produce the deliverables that a boss and co-workers expect to receive from you, as well as to tend to important family responsibilities. Scheduling helps you achieve both. WFH should not be a continuous whirlwind of activities that leaves one fatigued and overloaded with demands on one's time.