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Coronavirus: 10 Ways to Keep Employees Comfortable While Working From Home

Posted on 17 March 2020

The rapidly evolving COVID-19 pandemic has prompted governments and businesses to take extraordinary steps to help slow the spread of the virus and keep people safe. Businesses across the United Kingdom have mandated that their employees work from home for an extended period of time. Millions of workers now find themselves working from home and having to take care of their children amid widespread school closures or ill family members.

Many of these employees, however, have never worked from home — and even if they have, they haven’t done so for extended periods of time, nor have they had to balance work requirements with potential family duties. But a few small changes to employees' home work environments can help create more comfortable, safe, and productive homeworking experiences.

Whether working from home on a shift basis or full-time during the coronavirus pandemic, employers should share with their employees these ten best practices:

  1. Use a sturdy chair that can be adjusted. Refrain from sitting on very soft couches and chairs as they do not support the body evenly during extended sitting.
  2. Adjust seating height, so your forearms are parallel to the floor when typing.
  3. Place a small pillow behind your lower back while sitting to maintain the natural curve of your spine.
  4. Use an external mouse and place objects — such as your phone, mouse, and printed materials — close to your body to minimise reaching.
  5. Place your feet on the floor or use a box as a footrest.
  6. Alternate between sitting and standing throughout the day (about every hour) to reduce excessive stress on the lower back and legs while sitting.
  7. Take short micro-breaks (approximately two minutes in length) every hour to stretch and move your body.
  8. Be careful not to overload electrical outlets to avoid fire risk.
  9. Be aware of your extension/power cords to minimise tripping hazards.
  10. Keep a routine, make sure you set time aside for lunch, and strive for a healthy work life balance.

In addition to sharing these best practices, employers should provide guidance and information through, for example, video tutorials and helplines to assist with home work environment setup and to address any physical discomfort issues. Businesses should also consult the Health and Safety Executive website for further resources and guidance to share with employees.