Staying healthy and productive whilst working remotely

Monday, March 16, 2020

Since the spread of the novel coronavirus, working and studying remotely is being mandated for by many organisations. Given our current climate, there’s been a major spike in remote working or, “working from home” in recent years. Bearing that in mind, staying healthy and productive while working from home can be overlooked. Here are some recommendations while you “WFH”.

Get set up properly – your workspace should be comfortable

HSE guidance is to make your workspace a healthy and ergonomic place, or, in other words, make your workplace work for you. The first thing you should do is make sure that you use your chair properly.

  • Chair - Your chair is your most valuable asset when at your workstation. Not everyone has an ergonomic office chair at home, so rather than sitting slumped on the sofa, try to sit on a dining chair with good posture and your feet flat on the floor or on a footstool, if you have one.
  • Posture - Ideally sit at a table when using a computer, resist the urge to sit hunched on the sofa over your laptop! HSE guidelines state that your arms should float over the keyboard and ensure that your lower back is fully supported by the lumbar support in your chair. If you have access to a monitor and keyboard this will help with your positioning.
  • Lighting - Try to avoid glare, in general, it's best to have natural light in front of or next to work surfaces and computer screens to avoid glare and maximise your outside views. To avoid glare on the screen, position any additional light to the side of the monitor, rather than behind or in front of it.
  • Vision – HSE guidelines suggest that every 20 minutes, for 20 seconds, focus on an object 20 feet away. This means looking at something approximately eight steps away from where you are sitting.
  • Movement – Standing occasionally during your workday is good for your health, small changes such as standing during phone calls, or taking a quick walk around your home every hour will help with productivity. Make sure to change your posture frequently throughout the day to minimise fatigue on the body.

Find a remote work buddy

Working remotely can be very isolating; it's a good idea to have a remote work buddy or a remote working group.

You can connect with each other using video conferencing software to make sure that morale is kept high. Discuss your work with another person - this is where a remote work buddy comes in handy!

Check-in with each other at intervals throughout the day, share ideas, discuss work and check in on each other’s health and wellbeing.

On average people spend 13 years of their lives at work. Your work colleagues are your friends and family, so be sure to keep in contact with them during remote working to keep spirits high.

Alumni and students can connect using the Griffith Alumni Network whilst working and studying from home. Start connecting with your Griffith College Community!

Keep structure in your day 

It is easy to think that working remotely means that your routine is out the window, but to stay productive and keep well whilst working from home it is important to keep a structure in place.

That means get up and ready for work or study at set times, have breakfast, get dressed (no dressing gowns or pyjamas!) and get yourself ready to work. Make sure you take a full lunch break and be mindful of snacking throughout the day.

Your schedule should include multiple breaks throughout the day. This could include cuddles with a pet or a walk around the neighbourhood to get some fresh air.

Unplugging from work is important, and it's something that many remote workers struggle with. Be strict with yourself when it comes to finishing work - you should set an endpoint for your day and resist working later than this.

Think about your communications

Working or studying remotely is isolating, so make use of the digital communications available. That doesn’t mean that everything should be an email, though - video conferencing can be a good way to communicate throughout the day and can often be quicker than hammering out an email. Plus, it lets you see a face other than your dog's.

Want to stay healthy?

Griffith has plenty of wellness supports available for students and staff alike, both in-person and online.