By: Gary Arenson, Founder and Managing Director
Ergotherapy Solutions (Pty) Ltd
When in crisis, I find it best to look for opportunity. In light of covid-19 and the need for social distancing, many organisations have offered their staff the opportunity to work from home in isolation. This presents a unique opportunity to showcase one’s ability to maintain productivity and professionalism, no matter where they are.
However, working from home can prove difficult without the creation of the right physical space that allows for focus, and the ability to be creative and constructive while comfortable.
The following tips will help transform your home space into an ergonomic workspace:
1. Separate work and home
Though tricky when working from, focus on creating a space that is separate to your home life where possible. If working from the dining table or similar, then use a token to mark that area as a designated ‘workspace’.
When I first started my company I worked from a desk in my bedroom, using a briefcase as a token. When it was open next to me, I was ‘at work’. It’s important to create a sign that says to you and those around you – “I’m in work mode now”. Put on a work jacket, wear your watch, have your laptop open –anything that makes it meaningful for you!
2. Create a comfortable space
Most desks are at a standard height, so that is not the problem, but many chairs at home are lower than office chairs which could cause comfort issues. Unless you have a home office chair already, you need to raise yourself up.
Use a cushion so that you are at a more comfortable height in relation to your keyboard. To anchor your feet, take a box roughly 15-20cm in height that you can rest your feet on when you are sitting comfortably back in the chair.
This in turn helps to stabilise your pelvis and relax your back. Without this you could find yourself perching at the front edge of the chair.
3. Load shedding? Great!
The beauty of working from home is that it’s no longer 8-5. Have a look at your load shedding schedule and build your routine around it. Use the time to step away, be with the kids, read a book, try a new hobby, or even take a power nap.
Don’t let it take you by surprise. Knowing the schedule allows you to prepare, and to have alternative ways to spend your time in place which you may even look forward to.
4. Distance distractions
The toughest part about working from home is that we tend to be our own worst enemies. The fridge is always there, just close enough to visit often, the kids are running around or playing their latest video game, and the couch looks oh so inviting.
Be realistic and don’t try work for prolonged three-hours periods. Draft a daily task sheet with that day’s most important priorities and goals and break those up throughout the day. Implement a 30-minute rule, focussing on working solidly for that length of time before taking a quick break, enjoying a quiet coffee, or a walk around the house.
Then get back to it. You won’t completely avoid distraction, but by being realistic and adjusting to this ‘new normal’ will help ensure that work goals are achieved, and that you can maximise your time while practicing a work-from-home balance.
Keeping things business as usual in times like this may seem tough but using these tips will help turn the crazy into the constructive. Use the unique opportunity to spend time at home with kids and partners, while still continuing to be disciplined, productive and deliver on work responsibilities.
Who knows, if done right we may well have made the case for working from home when this is all over!