How to avoid the home office becoming a health trap! Working at home can have many benefits. But it can also have negative health effects and be costly if we do not take responsibility for the physical work environment. We have gathered facts and tips for designing the home office.
Who is responsible for the home office?
There is no doubt today that the working environment is an important responsibility of the employer. But what fewer people know is that the Health and Safety at Work Act makes no distinction between work at work and work at home. It is always the employer’s responsibility to ensure that the home workplace functions in a sustainable and flexible way, not least ergonomically.
Some recommendations include, for example, a height-adjustable table to allow employees to vary their working position throughout the day, equipment for active standing or sitting, access to the right lighting and the ability to raise their screen to avoid injury.
Flexible, stylish and healthy interior design
Most office furniture today is designed for office conditions. Now that they are going to take place in the home, they are not adapted to such an environment. Often office desks and chairs are heavy and bulky and the color scheme may not be suitable for home decor. It’s time to develop flexible, stylish and healthy interiors that we can be proud to display in our homes.
Furniture at home encourages us to stay seated
When most of the population started working from home, no one was really prepared. The first thing that happened was that we invested in digital tools to keep in touch, work efficiently and have meetings.
Unfortunately, the physical work environment is neglected. Naprapaths, masseurs and doctors report that the number of people seeking treatment for neck and back problems has increased significantly. One of the big reasons is that most of our homes are not designed to work in.
Another important parameter is that we are not as active as when we are in the office. We don’t have to walk over to the colleague across the room or cycle to work.
Another factor is that the furniture in the home is made for relaxing and sitting. They encourage a sedentary lifestyle. The interior of your home is not designed to sustain concentration and focus for several hours.
Improper loading affects our ability to work
The increase in sedentary life creates problems in our bodies. When we sit down at the kitchen table or on the sofa, our lower back tends to collapse. Our thighs are squeezed and circulation is impaired. The brain does not have as much access to oxygen. In addition, our spine is negatively affected when we squat forward if the table is not in a good ergonomic working position. When we have the laptop on our lap, we bend the neck and create tension in the back and neck.
Together, these and many other factors mean that we cannot perform as well during our working hours.
Our concentration falters, we get tired from reduced movement and oxygenation, and stiffness and poor circulation cause problems.
“The ability to stand up and work and reduce sedentary behavior is as important at home as in the office. Working at home also eliminates the daily walk or bike ride to/from work and many other natural everyday movements. With an active workplace at home, we feel better, perform better and prevent injuries. “
Here is what the employee thinks
According to the research company Leesman (which measures workplace perceptions) and their recent study on the home workplace, we see that one of the most critical and important factors for perceiving home work as working well is access to a specific workspace. Either a dedicated desk area or a separate workspace with a desk.
So the importance of good physical equipment is very important for the efficiency and the feeling of the employee. In particular, it is important from a health and safety perspective to reduce the risk of injuries and costly rehab cases.
How to create a healthy home workplace
- Create a dedicated workplace/space – helps to create the feeling of ‘coming and going’ from work, reduces stress from the feeling of occupying public spaces in the home.
- Alternate between standing and sitting – reduces repetitive strain injuries.
- Allow and encourage short movement and recovery breaks.
- Have the right light – a workplace lamp ensures good lighting.
- Ensure good ergonomics – correct screen height, ergonomic keyboards and mice take the strain off your shoulders, arms and neck.