Many people are working from home at the moment and it’s easy to end up with all kinds of aches and pains just from sitting badly. The good news is that it’s also easy to avoid the bad habits that cause this. Here are some simple tips:
Find a corner of the house to work in, away from distractions and make it your dedicated workspace.
Have the right lighting. It may easier to see the screen if the room is dimly lit, but your poor eyes have to keep adjusting to the different light levels, so keep your workspace well lit.
Stand for 15 mins every hour, try for 30. No hunching over the desk or crossing your legs either!
Support good posture by having your desk, chair and accessories arranged properly. Your screen should be approximately at eye level (or at least tilted upwards). When seated, your hips should be slightly higher than your knees, back well supported, feet flat and forearms parallel to the floor so that your arms roughly form an L-shape. Your keyboard should be directly in front of you with the mouse close by. If your feet are not flat on the floor, you probably need a footrest (a box or stool will do at a pinch) and if you are doing lots of work with the mouse, you may need a wrist rest.
Take regular breaks.
Take regular breaks (no, that’s not an error!). At least every hour. Frequent short breaks are better than less frequent long breaks. Either way, get away from the desk or table and get outside if you can. Do some exercise, yoga, meditation, anything that switches you off for a few minutes and relaxes you. At work, you probably have all kinds of minor distractions that you don’t even think about.
And take even more breaks and even more care if you’re working from a small keyboard and screen on a tablet. And as for working from your phone, don’t. Please.
We’ve been hearing a lot recently about the impact of artificial intelligence on jobs, as well as current job losses in sectors from fast foods to banking. While we may have got used to closures and job losses in some areas such as manufacturing, job losses and redundancy still come as a big shock.
In my career in IT support, people were made redundant by every company I worked for. That includes a large manufacturing company, an international financial services company, and several small and very small companies, including an internet startup. So I saw the impact on colleagues and friends.
One of the main reasons I started thinking about working for myself was being made redundant, twice in a very short space of time, and realising that I needed to take responsibility for my own financial future and security.
So I have a few tips for anyone facing redundancy, going through it, or still recovering from it. After the initial shock:
Don’t blame yourself for being a poorly performing employee and don’t take it personally. It’s still generally true that it’s the job that’s redundant, not you. I know that’s easier said then done, but it’s important to remember. Of course, if there is real evidence that you have been singled out unfairly, then get immediate professional advice.
Take some time to review:
your finances – how much redundancy pay will you receive, do you have savings, what commitments do you have, do you need claiming benefits immediately?
what you want to do next. You may want to go back to the same job or career, but you may decide that this is a wake-up call and want a complete change. Take this time to think about it.
your CV. When was the last time you looked at it (if you even have one!)? Is it going to get you the right kind of opportunity?
your skills. Will they take you where you want to go? What can you do to improve your chances?
Don’t burn your boats. You may be angry and upset, and you may have reason to be, but a good reference will be useful in the future.
Plan. Whatever you decide you want to do in the future, now is the time to start planning it so that you can put everything in place.
Keep busy, do some online training, catch up with old friends, outstanding tasks, sort out your spare room/shed/garden/old photo albums. It will give you a feeling of having accomplished something.
And don’t panic. You will get another job. Try and use this as an opportunity to move on and find something better.