With 24/7 access to the fridge and pantry, and the freedom to wear tracksuit pants – or no pants – while responding to emails, there are some notable perks to working from home during the coronavirus shutdown.
Around the world, people have been sharing their do-it-yourself home desk setups on social media.
Standing desk flex pic.twitter.com/YqtGbnlVAc
— Brad Cahoon (@iambradcahoon) March 13, 2020
Working from home also means we’re holding more video conference calls – a new trend comedian Hamish Blake has been milking.
The radio star has been surprising people across the country by crashing virtual meetings on Zoom.
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This week saw a few sporadic patches of zooming quietly into the virtual lives of people all across this fine land. Thanks to everyone DM-ing me the time, code and passwords of your meetings, apologies that I can make all of them, I run a very fast and loose schedule. But it’s worth a shot. As always, I tried my best to be an asset to every meeting. In the middle section here I am trying to save humanity, yet some may see it as derailing a class. Your call. We kick things off this week with the discovery of the best food based club I’ve become aware of… keep boomin, keep zoomin x
A post shared by Hamish Blake (@hamishblakeshotz) on
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Funny desks aside, there is a more serious aspect to working from home – risk of injury.
Many people don’t have the luxury of a private home study or chair with appropriate back support.
But if we’re hunched over a laptop for hours on end, we risk emerging from lockdown with a very sore back and neck.
Luckily, there are steps we can take to help protect ourselves from injury.
Keep your spine straight
“Think of someone grabbing you from the top of your head,” Josh Lambert, owner of Pinnacle Health Group, told The New Daily.
“If you need, roll up a towel and put that in the small of your back.”
Keep the things you regularly use, like a mouse or pen and paper, within close reach so you’re not leaning over and stretching your arms out while working.
Look straight ahead
The top third of your computer needs to be in line with your eyes, according to Julie Oughtred, an occupational therapist at Counselling Appraisal Consultants in Melbourne.
“You can use books or boxes to raise the level of the screen – you don’t need to get fancy equipment,” Ms Oughtred told The New Daily.
“If you don’t have an ergonomic chair, make sure you have a cushion on it so you don’t get a sore bottom. Just use things around your house to make yourself comfortable.”
Consider buying an external keyboard so you can elevate your screen while typing at a comfortable level.
Find excuses to get up and move around at regular intervals.
Set an alarm every 30 minutes to remind yourself to stretch for a minute.
“Stand up, hold your arms out to the side, rotate them then twist your palms to the roof,” Ms Oughtred said.
“Tip your neck from side to side, rotate your neck then roll your shoulders back.”
Mr Lambert’s hacks for moving?
“Don’t have a huge big drink bottle or bin near you, because that will make you get up more often,” he said.
“We have this opportunity now where our home is our workplace, so try to use it to be more flexible by walking around the block or in a park.”
Set up a DIY standing desk
Try stacking items around the house on top of a table or benchtop to create your own standing desk.
“You still need to be looking at your screen at eye height, but you want to be typing at bench height,” Ms Oughtred said.
“Perhaps stack a couple of books under a laptop and place the keyboard a bit lower down if you have a separate keyboard.”
Set up a work space away from the rest of your life
Your bed and couch are for relaxing – not work – so try to keep it that way.
It’s important to separate your work life from your home life as much as you can.
Otherwise, it can feel like you’re working all the time.
“Have a designated zone, and try to define your work space versus place space,” Mr Lambert said.
Be nice to yourself
“You’re not working from home – you’re at home during a crisis trying to be getting work done,” Mr Lambert said.
Ms Oughtred agreed, adding: “Don’t worry if you’re not being as productive as normal – we’re all in the same boat.”