Many companies pride themselves in providing a great “place” to work…they purchase adjustable furniture, hire design specialists to install living walls, and create great places to connect with coworkers. I’d love to know how many of these companies have invested even a fraction of that energy into making home a great place to work. Admittedly, none of us expected work-from-home (WFH) to last this long, so we can forgive organizations that didn’t jump to purchase equipment for home-based offices. But for many organizations, WFH and hybrid work arrangements are here to stay.
What can you, as an organization, do to ensure that “home” is as comfortable and productive as the office you’ve mostly abandoned?
- Negotiate great prices on good furniture, including adjustable chairs with lumbar support and sit/stand desks. Yup, I went there. Sit/stand desks are now so economical that it doesn’t make sense to buy keyboard trays and try to install them on folding or dining tables. And don’t choose the cheapest one; if the height doesn’t go low enough, you’ll have to buy all kinds of extra equipment to make it fit. Find one that will adjust, quickly, between 22 ½ and 46 ½”. An ergonomist can confirm whether the products that you’re offering will meet most of your employees’ needs.
- Make sure everyone has an external keyboard, mouse, and screen. Laptops are not simply ergonomic. We must be able to separate the keyboard from the screen. Period.
- Provide help with technology. Make sure that people know how to set up private backgrounds for video meetings, how to use their microphones (and block background noise), and optimize their internet connections. Make sure everyone has easy access to someone who can really help. Technology is frustrating for many of us, so smoothing this out can make working from home much more enjoyable.
- Encourage people to make their home offices comfortable and inviting. If you’re going to be working from home for a while, invest in window blinds or task lights, heat mats or cooling fans, and technology that allows you to move around while working (wireless headsets, for example). These are relatively low cost items that can make a world of difference. At home, people can have Max and Fluffy at their feet, music blaring, limitless coffee, and a jungle of houseplants, if these make the home office a happy place.
- Lead by example. Move every hour, and encourage your co-workers to do the same. Stay connected with each other, and add touch points throughout the day. Offer social engagement opportunities.
- Provide support for people to help them adjust their furniture “ergonomically”. We can help. Purchase a site licence for our home office presentation, here. One of our ergonomists can lead this session as a webinar (firstname.lastname@example.org for pricing). Introducing sit/stand stations? Check out our e-learning, here. We can also conduct remote or in-person office assessments.
If people are in pain while working from home, you could have a WSIB claim on your hands. And even if it doesn’t go that far, an uncomfortable worker is not productive, and is not performing their best work.