Working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic has presented employees and employers with a unique bundle of opportunities and challenges. A recent episode of BizChat with Staples Business Advantage that was hosted by Karen Pluthero delved deeply into the topic.
Podcast guests Sue Maynard, Senior Manager at BGIS, Corporate Real Estate, Tessa Cole, National Sales Manager for Allsteel and Sandra Vyse, National Director of Furniture for Staples Business Advantage offered expert advice for business owners and home office workers to set up workspaces that are ergonomic, safe and comfortable.
The podcast focused on delivering actionable ideas for workspaces to help companies meet new post-COVID-19 safety requirements for workers. Suggestions included ideas for home offices and for helping employees safely return to work.
These topics also included include budget awareness, flexibility, communications and the need to approach office settings holistically, providing both mental and physical comfort whether the employee is working from home or in a traditional office setting.
Home Office Space Configuration
For employees working from home, it's important for them to be comfortable, and that means details like ergonomics are vital. Things such as seating and keyboards at the proper height for a worker's frame are key areas to consider. Visual appeal, overall comfort and proper lighting are some other considerations to help a worker remain balanced and productive.
Support Emotional Well-Being
The coronavirus pandemic has been a stressful, unsettling time, and people who suddenly find themselves working from home may feel a little lost and lonely from doing without daily in-office interactions.
Business owners and managers should keep in mind that working from home may leave some employees feeling adrift and out of sorts. Schedule frequent check-ins and interactions with workers, and encourage them to check in with each other and other team members.
Maintain Physical Safety
When working at home, physical safety plays a role in how well a worker is able to perform. Make sure to establish rules for sanitizing for everyone who enters your home workspace, and maintain air quality by keeping filters fresh on HVAC systems. When cleaning and sanitizing, use only harm-free chemicals.
Maintain Activity Levels
Too much inactivity can be bad for any worker's physical health and emotional well-being. When working from home especially, schedule plenty of times to get up and move during the day. It's easy to sit at the computer for extended periods without realizing how much time has passed.
Take Advantage of Technology
Modern technology makes it easy to hold online meetings, share documents and keep productivity levels high. In some cases, employees working from home can be even more productive than when working in a traditional office setting thanks to technology, such as online meetings, email communications and chats.
Tips for the Office When Returning to Work
When an office provides essential services, or when continuing to work from home isn't an option, it's still possible to set up a workspace that helps protect everyone from coronavirus. Respect each person's bubble of safety, and arrange workspaces with enough physical distance from others to keep workers safe.
Pay Attention to How People Move Around the Office
Note how people navigate through space when moving around the office. If they bump into things or frequently walk too close to one another, consider adding movable walls or putting up barriers between workers and others in high-traffic areas.
In common areas, such as lunchrooms and meeting rooms, space out chairs to accommodate occupancy guidelines, and consider buying PPE in bulk to provide facial coverings for employees. Establish a wipe-in/wipe out policy where each person wipes off all surfaces both before and after touching them.