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Unpacking Workplace Safety and Fatigue in a Work From Home Environment
Working from home requires all workers to still be safe and cautious. But as many workers until recently operated primarily out of an office environment, you might not know the different ways in which your physical and emotional health could be impacted by being outside of your normal work environment.
Sean Byrne, head of B2B for Australia and New Zealand from Logitech recently hosted a webinar with Work Health & Safety experts Benjamin Knox and Lauren McColl on workplace safety.
The webinar showcased the following 5 key areas for work from home employees to keep in mind:
Hi, good morning everybody. Thank you for joining today’s webinar WHS Working Safely at Home with Logitech and Compliance OH&S.
My name is Kristy. I’m the Business Marketing Specialist at Logitech and I’ll be today’s moderator for the duration of this webinar.
I just wanted to start with a few quick housekeeping tips.
- When you joined, you may have heard it say, “This meeting is being recorded.” This is for marketing purposes only. We can’t see you or your faces so you won’t be part of the recording.
- Then I encourage you to ask questions throughout the webinar and we will get to them towards the end. Down the bottom of your screen, you’ll see the little Q&A icon. Please click on that to submit your questions.
Try to avoid using the chat icon to ask your questions, as in the Q&A one, it’s just easier for us to monitor and get to all those questions. With that, I’ll get our speakers Lauren, Ben and Sean to introduce themselves. Sean, we’ll start with you.
G’day all. My name is Sean Byrne, I’m the head of B2B for Australia and New Zealand from Logitech.
I think during this current time, for me it’s extremely important that we not only talk about zone and Zoom and our products and BRIO. For me, it’s extremely important that we remain safe in the environments that we work in and – not being subject matter experts on that – we have an amazing product that can help with lots of different things. You can see me very clearly on our BRIO webcams and hear me through the zones, but I think what’s critically important is that we hear from subject matter experts about how you keep yourself both physically and mentally safe in a working from home environment.
That’s where I sit. I’ll chip in with some comments every now and then, but we’ve got some subject matter experts in both Ben and Lauren that will obviously take us through far more content than I was to talk about when it comes to product, and I think that’s where the real value in this conversation is.
Ben, do you want to tell us more about yourself and Lauren?
Yeah, thanks for that, Sean, and thanks for the invitation to talk here this morning.
Good morning, everyone. Whether you’re calling in from home or in your offices at work, we’ve been doing Work Health and Safety for over 16 years all across Australia, and we help all sorts of businesses in different workplaces.
With the current situation, obviously there’s a lot of people working from home, so this is a really good opportunity to provide our services and advice for everyone who’s trying to work at their home environment. Hopefully you get a lot out of today’s presentation.
Lauren, do you want to just quickly introduce yourself?
Yes, I’m Lauren. I’ve been working with Ben for a year now. I have a quite a bit of passion into mental health and looking after ourselves, and especially at home and with everything that’s going on at the moment. I have also found that [the] mental health side of things is often overlooked, just because it’s not something that you can see and it’s not tangible. That’s probably one of the most important things personally to me when we are working from home and making sure that we are remembering all of ourselves and how we feel personally, as well as our physical environment and how we’re applying work into your home.
Fantastic. I suppose what I’m looking forward to is – and we’ll step through it – there’s a lot of things about how to sit at a desk, all those kind of things, and I know that’s coming up. But one of the things I found most important was that even if I’m sitting in my kitchen bench – and this is something I wasn’t aware of – even if I decide to be sitting at my kitchen bench, and I’m sitting on a dodgy breakfast store, that that’s actually considered a workplace environment. I found that amazing. I thought you had to have yourself set up to be covered from a workplace environment, but I know, Ben and Lauren, you guys will take us through a bit of that.
With no further ado, I suppose, let’s go through some content.
Fantastic. Okay, I’ll just share the screen now for everybody. Okay, how’s that?
Okay. Today’s presentation is obviously on working safely at home. We’ll be going through how to set up your workstation at home, a whole lot of different things – and as we’re going, like Kristy said, if you have any questions, just pop them in the Q&A and we’ll try and address them at the end.
There’s our details. Compliance OH&S, like I said, we’ve been operating for over 16 years and I’m the director of the company. We’ve done thousands of ergonomic assessments in office blocks, but also in people’s homes over that time. We’ve seen many different, interesting setups and helped people in their workplaces at home. As we go through, there are a couple of definitions I’d like to just go over before we get into it, because not everyone is aware of the different terminology in the Work, Health and Safety legislation.
A PCBU is a new term that came into the legislation in 2011 with the Work, Health, Safety Act. So, that just means a person conducting a business – and for most of us out there, that would be our employer – our employer is the person conducting a business and they have the overall responsibility for us at work. WHS stands for Work Health Safety; this used to be Occupational Health and Safety but now they use the terminology Work Health Safety. The legislation in Australia is national for most of the country, consistent legislation across the country, and also we also have some consistency with New Zealand legislation too, because now New Zealand have adopted the model Work, Health Safety Act. So it does apply that these rules and guidelines also apply to New Zealand as well.
Obviously, this is guide material only, so if you have any concerns you should talk to your local regulator and check with them for the local laws and rules.
Okay. As Sean said, where we perform work, that’s our workplace. Under the Work Health Safety Act, our employer has all the different obligations exactly as they would if you were at your office, whether it’s in town or in your local area – your workplace goes with you. For example, if I’m a sales rep and I’m driving around, if I’m going from place to place, each of those sites that I attend they would all be my workplace, and that can include your home residence as it is at the moment for a lot of people. The person conducting the business has the same duties that they do when you’re working at home as they would if you’re in your office.
These are some of the duties that your employer does have, and also some of the duties that you as a worker have as well – we all have obligations under the Work Health Safety Act.
The person conducting the business undertaking must have:
- make sure that you have a safe premises, and
- that you have safe systems of work, and
- you have safe equipment and substances, so things like your chairs and your desks and things at home, and
- then that you have appropriate training instruction supervision, and
- adequate amenities.
We need to try and make sure that all those things are in place when you’re working at home. Then also, as a worker, you have some legal responsibilities too. You need to take reasonable care for your own safety.
You want to be making sure that you’re setting up your workplace safely, and that you’re taking reasonable care of yourself and others at your workplace while you’re at home. And if your employer set some rules or guidelines of how you should operate when you’re working at home, you need to make sure you follow those rules, whether that’s policies and procedures or just general instructions. That’s a bit of the legal side of things.
It’s safe to say, Ben just throwing it out there, if you do not sit in a bath on your laptop while you’re at work, is it a reasonable assumption that in your bath at home while being on your laptop, that’s a reasonable care that you do not have an act or a mission to hurt yourself. Fair case?
That’s right. Yeah. That’s why the law includes workers too, because we need to make sure that when you’re at home, you’re doing the right thing too and looking after yourself. There are lots of cases – some of them more famous than others – of people getting injured when they’re working at home. We’ve large compensation claims etc. for doing various things like falling down the steps or whatnot. So, go do the right thing at work.
Here’s some examples of some interesting home offices. Obviously the person on the right is not meeting their legal obligations in terms of making sure their workplace is safe. Looks like they’ve had a few big nights on the drink there and… Yeah.
The photo on the left, that’s a legitimate photo where somebody was working in their bathroom with a toilet.
Yeah, some very interesting shots there. I haven’t seen someone working in their bathroom like that but I certainly have seen some very untidy, dirty office spaces when I’ve done my assessments over the years. Maybe not as bad as the one on the right, but pretty close to it.
The onus there would be on the person working from home to keep the environment safe and clean. You wouldn’t let stuff stack up around your work environment if you were in your office, would you? I assume the onus then is on the worker to actually make sure it’s nice and clean.
Yeah, make sure it’s nice and clean, and just make sure that you’re following all the general guidelines that you would if you’re in your office.
All right. Now, we’ll just get into a bit of the information about how you actually should look at your desk. Not all employees have been through this before. A lot of workplaces obviously that we go into we advise people how to set up their desks and we have policies and procedures, but this may be new to you. We’ll just run through some of the basic principles of how you should set your workstation up at home, just to give you a bit of guidance so that while you’re at home at the moment, you can have a bit of muck around. And, by all means, while we’re talking just have a look at your chair and grab some of those levers and see what they do, because not all people actually have an understanding of all the different functions that the chair has.
Most office chairs will go up and down; the backrest will tilt independently; you should be able to adjust the level of the base … there’s a whole lot of things that your chair can do, and this is probably one of the most important aspects that you want to get right, and this is where we always start here, point one. And probably nine out of 10 workplaces that I go to, the main problem that the worker is having – whether it’s neck pain, shoulder pain, or some problems with their forearm – probably nine out of 10 times it’s because the individual has not got their chair at the correct height.
Workstation desks are actually quite a high desk, and most of the time if you’re not a very tall person you would need to have your chair raised to the highest setting that it will go to, to allow your elbows to be at the correct height.
Always try and make sure you get the chair height right. Your feet flat on the floor – if they can’t be flat on the floor, then you might need to use a footstool and you can obviously be creative with that as well with what you use for your footstool.
It should have a nice backrest there to support your lumbar curve. You can see the picture on the right with that lumbar support in the lower back.
I hope everyone took the time to do that as I did, if you could see me jumping around on the camera. I’ve done that exactly now. I think I’ve got the angle correct, I’ve played with every button possible on my chair. So I hope everyone’s done the same.
Pretty nice looking chair there too, Sean.
It is. It’s a great chair. We can maybe talk about that at the end of this.
I’m so glad that you know what this little cushion here is for now, Sean.
Yeah, I now know what the cushion’s for, so I’m firing along. Fantastic.
You want to make sure that cushion that you’re talking about there, Kristy, that that little support there is actually in the curve of your spine, so it’s just down the lower part of your back where the curve is. You should be able to move that up and down normally in most chairs, and get that in the right spot.
Now, when you’re setting up your height obviously, you don’t want your knees to be banging into your desk. Just make sure you’ve got a little bit of clearance there between your knees or your thighs. You can see on the right hand side, that image of the person there. His elbows there are at 90 degrees, and the hands are just above the keyboard. So I’ll just tilt the screen down a little bit here – you want to avoid doing this action, bringing your shoulders up to get your hands at the correct height.
You want to have your hands by your side like this, with your arms at 90 degrees, and the keyboard should be below your hands like that. As soon as your chair is too low, which is what I was saying about nine out of 10 people do wrong – they’re lifting their shoulders up like that to get their arms at the correct height, and that’s how you develop a lot of neck pain.
If you take nothing away from this presentation, please just try and get your height correct on your chair so that your elbows are just above the keyboard.
If you move to a standing desk, then Ben, is the theory the same? Some people like to stand. I did it for I think an hour after I got one in the office, and then decided I don’t stand for that long ever. Is the standing – is the principle the same where it needs to be at that height?
Yes, when you’re standing normally like I’m standing at the moment at my sit-stand desk, and for most people, you’re going to need to have the adjustable desk at full height so that you can have your hands just above the keyboard.
So, same principles. You want to get that height, so whether you’re sitting or standing your elbows should be at the same height as the keyboard. Once you get that height right, nine out of 10 times, you will have your hips at the correct height too. You can see on the side here, there’s a slight angle down – your thighs would actually be parallel or pointing down. Your knee should never be above your hips there. If you’re sitting down and you’re down low, your knees will be up high, putting your hips in a bad position too, which will also encourage the spine to curve the wrong way and arch forward which can cause some lower back pain. You want to have those hips just above your knees; your thighs should be slightly pointing down.
Point five there, just making sure that your wrists are parallel. You shouldn’t need to raise your wrists like that on an angle. If you have the flaps on your keyboard standing up to raise the keyboard up, that would be promoting your wrist to extend – you actually want to have it nice and flat, so keep the keyboard flat if you have those adjustable toggles on your keyboard.
Because that’s why I noticed, I don’t know if anyone can see, but this is our new MX Keys product. It is actually quite flat and we’re about to run a promotion where it’s got the palm rest in it as well to keep it all on that particular level. That must be part of some of the design behind that product. I never realized that.
Yeah. All the new keyboards have a very thin component where the spacebar is now. In the old days that used to be quite thick, and you would need to extend your wrist up to actually type, and now you can almost be pretty much flat when you’re typing away on the new keyboards.
All right. We spoke about the shoulders, keeping them nice and relaxed with the elbows at 90 degrees, and your screen height is also an important one. The majority of people get the screen height too high. If you’re using a monitor, you want to make sure that your eye level is level with the top of the screen. Your eyes will naturally scroll down, so if it is a little bit lower it’s okay, but you definitely don’t want to have your screen higher than your eye level. Because when you do that, say me, if I’m looking slightly up, I’m tilting my neck back and that causes neck pain. You want to be in the neutral position, and if you’re looking straight ahead, your spine will stay in the natural resting position, which is where you want to be. Definitely looking up-
So vanity should come out of it, because I know that a lot of cameras – if you put it up higher you look up, [and] as you get slightly bigger over the years, for those of us who are slightly older, you do find that you can reduce some of the chins as you look up to a camera, but we should probably take vanity out of it and ensure that we do things for our own safety. Fair comment, Ben?
You’re getting tips from the kids on selfies, have you, Sean?
And I’m very good at taking a selfie. Yeah, that’s good to know. We should not be looking up. That’s good. I just dropped my screen based on that advice.
Yeah, it goes back to the old evolution theory, whereas when we were hunters and gatherers walking through the jungles and bush, you’re always looking at the ground to make sure you’re not tripping over things. You weren’t really looking too much up into the sky for things to attack you. Your eyes are designed to naturally scroll down, no problem, but if you have to look up you will always tilt your head slightly.
This is also a consideration when you’re using the laptop as well. If you can, use a second monitor and plug your laptop into that. If you can’t, then you should raise your laptop up onto a box or something, or even if you have a laptop raiser, and then use a secondary keyboard. This will get your laptop screen up to a good height, if you can.
Obviously, I’ve got the ability to supply those additional keyboards that are needed in that environment, Ben, so that’s great to know.
It does help a lot if you can have either a second monitor, or worst case scenario have a second keyboard. Then just make sure you keep all your frequently used items nice and close, keep your desk nice and tidy. You don’t want to be reaching out all day.
Probably particularly in this slide I would just want to highlight the position of the mouse. If you’re working, you don’t want to have your mouse too far away from your keyboard. You want to have it nice and close to your keyboard so you’re not reaching out and putting a bit of extra strain on the shoulders.
Okay. That’s a bit of the basic office setup. I’ll pass over to Lauren now and she’ll run through some of the other considerations when you’re working from home.
As I said earlier, mental health isn’t something that we all put at the forefront of our minds per se when it does come from working from home, because you’re just performing work from home, that’s what you think about. You’re not thinking about how it would affect you mentally or any things that are around the house that affect you while you’re working, or even just the ability to separate work from home.
There are a few questions here that I think are probably good for each of us to think about now or after the webinar, or when you’ve got some spare time over lunch. Just, I suppose, thinking about any mental health issues that your colleagues may be experiencing while they’re at home, how they’re feeling while they’re at home, even yourself or your employees, whoever it may be.
Considering we are going through this pandemic at the moment, workers may actually find themselves increasingly stressed due to the pandemic. I’ve got a really good friend that struggled quite a bit with all of this COVID-19 stuff, so she had a bit of a breakdown because of it. And that opened my eyes to be like, “Well, she’s at home, who does she have around to talk to about all of this stuff that is not work-based, but it is an external factor that is affecting her. And because there are less people around her, there’s less opportunity for her to talk about how she feels, especially when it is related to work because she’s working from home.”
Lauren, just on that, I will be the first person to put my hand up and say that I’ve found it challenging, in that for 25 years I’ve done a job which is having me out on the road going and seeing customers, to not doing that anymore. I personally have found it very challenging.
It’s funny how you’re then around your children all the time, you become grumpy with them because you can’t get out and do the stuff you’d normally do, and obviously, that mental health flows onto everyone.
One of the things we did at Logitech was we’ve created a thing called the ‘virtual water cooler’, which is an environment that is permanently set up where anyone can just jump onto a Zoom call. And if you just want to have a morning coffee like you would when you’re walking past the office and talk about Master Chef last night, which I’m addicted to at the moment – MAFS before that, but the ability to just get online, have that quick conversation over coffee – can’t talk about the football, so we’re going to find something to talk about. I found that that has been extremely … something that I’ve found and got a lot of comfort from. It’s just an initiative we did. But I’m the first to put my hand up and say that I find it particularly challenging at the moment.
Yeah. Especially for all of those social people, the outgoing people, it’s a big change. Even in my workplace as well, I’m always running around talking to people, annoying Ben, annoying everyone else in our workplace, just because I want to have a bit of a chat about my crazy life that’s not so crazy but just from the night before – it’s a lot different. Now it just means that I call instead, [but] not all the time. It does help me focus on my work, but it is not something you think about until you’re actually in that position.
Also, because physical health is something that you can see is deteriorating, you can feel it in yourself, you don’t feel well in the morning because you’ve got a headache or whatever it might be. It’s easier to diagnose then, like you said, having your kids around and getting angry at them.
That is a stress that you have while you’re at work, and you’re working from home, and it might affect your moods at the end of the day when you’re finished work. It may actually affect that and how you continue with your afternoon. These are definitely things that we need to think about when we are working from home.
Did you want to jump to the next slide, Ben?
Sean, as you were just talking about before, it is important to stay connected, so you guys do your water cooler talk. We can also just do this through phone calls, emails – I keep in contact with one of my close work friends by via Teams. We do chat a bit, we just ask how each other’s day was or how the weekend was. We use a lot of Team chats as well, like video calls.
I’d also recommend to increase our team meetings without over managing, I suppose. Even with these team meetings, we’re sticking to our schedules, we plan our days around these team meetings. It’s important that we keep our online meetings, I suppose, at the times that we schedule it, because it’s easier to have our days planned around it. Whereas if we’re in the office, then it’s easy to move the team meeting around whenever someone’s got a spare moment.
Yeah, I’ve even noticed that our marketing team has started having Friday afternoon drinks as a group, and it seems to be starting earlier and earlier on the Friday, but I just noticed that they get together and it must be a nice way to finish the week together.
Yeah, and especially because they’re all doing it together, they’re all sharing their afternoon drinks and they’re at home, so it’s probably better for them than to be ‘at work’.
Yeah, and being stuck at home some of the girls definitely enjoy being able to put on different clothes and dressing up as though they’re actually going out, for some that’s a good coping way to get through it as well. Putting on earrings or something as simple as that is…
Yeah, it’s making yourself feel a little bit better.
I can also suggest working closely with your teammates, so on team projects increasing your collaboration there. We’ve got team building activities. With these, it’s around getting your steps up, easy exercise challenges, if you’re all going for a walk –so if you’ve got an hour lunch or half hour lunch, see if you can get the most steps in. If you’re into doing squat challenges – which is not me – you can definitely do those.
With work, we can also ensure that our workers do have ample work to do – so that it is not too much work so that they got bogged down, and not too little so that they’re not annoyed or stressed out that they’re not doing their work or they can’t show that they are actually working from home.
That’s a fantastic idea. I think one of our next meetings we might have a walking meeting. There’s nothing to stop at all dialing into Zoom, and just being on a call together, having a meeting together while we all go for a walk. Separately, obviously. I think it’s a great idea. I hadn’t thought about that. Thanks Lauren.
Yeah, some people even have the exercise walking machines in there in their home office, so they can do walks.
Just while we’re on that, thanks for all the questions coming in, guys. Keep those coming through. We’ve got some question time at the end – we will definitely be addressing those questions. If we can’t get to them all in today’s webinar, we’ll definitely get back to everybody. It’s great to see a few really good questions coming in so keep those questions coming in the Q&A area.
Jump onto the next slide there, Ben.
What makes a good work area? We did touch on this a little bit before. I would recommend keeping your work life as separate as you can from your home life. Because we are at home, you’ve got kids running around, you’ve got people that you live with walking around – we need to make sure that everyone is respectful that when you are at work, you’re at work. If you’re doing it on the dining room table, then they need to know that when you’re sitting there, then that is your work time, so that they’re going to leave you alone [and] let you do what you need to do. If you have breaks throughout the day, then that’s fine. But even if you go into your home office and the door is shut, that’s a no entrance policy.
Just like Sean said before keeping your kids and you separate, or as separate as you can, while we’re at work.
As much as you can. What I have noticed, though, and some of the stuff that we’ve been seeing some content around, is that people are far more accepting about the fact that obviously it’s changed. Everyone knows we’re at home. If the kids do come in, especially the smaller ones, and they want to say hello, let them say hello – introduce them to the team, and then they’ll feel that they’ve seen what’s going on and then they’re happy to go do their thing.
I had a call with a guy out of Europe the other day called Boris, he’s a lovely fella, single dad. It was a late night call, and both his girls decided that he must be doing something super fun. They both left their bedrooms, came in, he let him get on the call, for a period of time they were bouncing around and stuff behind him trying to wave to us all around the world. They had a great time.
We were very open and honest with him and said it doesn’t matter. He was more concerned about it than we were, but I think that’s changed – and if you let them do that initial introduction and say, “These are the people I’m talking to” they don’t want to sit and listen to an adult conversation at the best of times. They’re happy enough to disappear once they’ve had their little exploratory ‘what is going on and is it something I’m missing out on’? I’ve just noticed that just seems to be a nice way to get them involved and let them move away.
Yeah, definitely. Off the back of that as well, while we’re at home we’re technically in the office or we’re still working. [But] how are we switching off from work when we’re finished work? is definitely something else to think about. I’ve heard of people going out to the end of their driveway to leave their workplace and then walking back in as if they’re walking back home.
What’s separating you from the end of your work day?
Normally, I would leave the office, walk around to my car, and then I’d be driving a half hour drive home to get to my place. This is definitely something to think about as to how you’re separating it. Where you can, don’t continue … If you’ve got some work to do, then that’s fine, but don’t keep working throughout your afternoon when it’s not actually your work hours. It’s just important to make sure that you keep work at work, and your home life separate. Especially when we’re working at home, some of us might actually find it hard separating the two.
Psychosocial risks – on the next slide – I’ll touch on these a little bit too. These are the challenges that people face in relation to psychological and social challenges. It includes isolation, which is what we’re all going through at the moment. Any high or low job demands, reduced social support from your managers or your colleagues, fatigue, online harassment, and something we may not think about is family and domestic violence. It’s important to remember that on occasion, we may be actually closer to harm than when we are at work.
Online harassment or family and domestic violence, unfortunately, may be more prominent because we are working from home. If this is the case, it’s very important to let your manager know. This is all confidential. It’s all your workplace, you do have confidentiality agreements there, and it may be up to you guys to talk about arranging alternative working methods. That might mean you do go into the office, but no one else is there. That’s still isolation, you’re still working, you’ll still be able to get your job done, but you’re also being safe, because you’re away from all of that stuff.
There are online support services as well around these such as White ribbon and Beyond Blue. It’s definitely important to reach out to those ones if you need to.
Yeah, and there’s a lot of services that are available for that, so we’d encourage everyone to reach out if they’re in those situations for sure.
Just a question on the fatigue line. This is going to sound silly, but I’ve been finding myself absolutely exhausted. More so – I coach Junior football, I coach senior football, I run around like a pork chop most afternoons or evenings taking the kids places and still go to bed feeling not even close to as tired as I seem to feel since the lockdown. Is that something that is normal – from a fatigue? I wonder if I’m alone.
I think I’ve been feeling it too, especially this week, and I’m not sure why. I woke up, I think it was this morning, I was so exhausted just from, I suppose, being at home and being so switched on the whole day – and then I’m still switched on the afternoon because I don’t have that downtime because I’m just go go go and it’s something that I am struggling to get out of.
There’s a fair bit of mental fatigue there, but also because you’re not active, Sean, you’re not out and about, getting to the gym, you actually do become a little bit deconditioned as well. You’re probably not as physically fit and healthy as you might have been prior.
I love the assumption you just made, Ben that I go to the gym. That’s a nice assumption. But yeah, it is that kind of fatigue. It’s an interesting thing so I thought I’d ask. Cool.
Our ‘day preparation’. This is a fun one that we may not think about as well. The general thing, I suppose, that I would recommend is prioritizing your day.
In your morning, you’re doing the bigger items that require more brain power. You wake up, you have your coffee, you’re feeling pretty refreshed. Everyone else might be asleep, so it’s probably a good time for you to start getting all the big things done.
Middle of the day, medium priority items. For me, it might be writing a safe work message statement I’ve done hundreds of times, I know it in and out, so I’m pretty confident with doing it.
And end of the day, focusing on smaller items that are easy to complete. It might be replying to the emails that I have, making a couple of phone calls in the afternoon, just an easier way to wind down after your working at home day.
Your routines as well. This is also one that I think is pretty important. We spoke about it before – dressing in your work clothes, so we’re getting up in the morning and we’re not working in our PJs
I have got pants on.
Even something that I mentioned before as well, leaving your house, going to the end of the driveway, coming back in, that’s the routine of finishing your work day as well as not sitting in your bed or on your couch. One: bad ergonomic principle, and two, it gets you out into your office, which is your home office, your dining room table, wherever you’re actually working.
Also, making sure that we just have lunch at the same time. If you’re having lunch at 12:00, then have lunch at 12:00, or when you’re in the office or when you’re at home have it at the same time. It’s also going to help you when you do start going back to work, so we’re not slapped in the face with this weird, crazy routine that we’re not used to. Like, what if you go to work in your PJ’s and you don’t realize that you’ve actually still wearing your-
Still wearing your PJs.
Yeah, that wouldn’t be ideal. I’ll throw it back to Ben for our working from home checklist.
Thanks Lauren. Okay. Yeah, just with the working from home checklist, we’ve had a few little comments coming through about checking your workplace at home. We can also send out a checklist to everyone after the seminar, Kristy, components of it just-
Yeah, we had a few questions about, will this slide deck be shared? Yes. We’ll be sharing any slides, any links that we’ve been speaking about as well as the recording of the webinar.
Yes, and we’ll send out a PDF as well for everyone that can do a little checklist at home.
You don’t have to be super strict with it, but it’s about trying to have a bit of a think about your workplace and make sure it’s set up pretty well. We’ll include that for everybody too.
Some things that we want to consider just when we’re working from home – Lauren has touched on it a bit – and we talked about making sure that you keep moving around, make sure you change your posture. We’ve had a couple of questions about that on the Q&A.
I would suggest if you’ve got your phone there just put a little timer on there. You probably don’t want to be sitting down for any more than 40 minutes, 45 minutes. Just set your timer there to buzz and even if you just do what I’m doing now, which is just stand up, change your posture, do a few stretches.
We will attach information too on some stretches that you can do when you’re at home. Just make sure your lighting’s good, the ventilation in there. Particularly at the moment you want to try and have a window open with some nice fresh air coming in – not if it’s super cold, obviously, like it’s been getting at the moment, but where you can, maybe in the afternoon, if it’s a bit warmer, just open up the windows and make sure you’ve got good ventilation.
Also, slip/trip/fall hazards. You are at work, and a question did come up about insurance. When you’re at home, you’re actually at work so it’s the same as if you’re at the office. If you did have an injury you would be covered under your employer’s work health and safety policy, and you’d be entitled to workers’ compensation. Depending on the circumstances, obviously, but you want to make sure there’s no slip/trip/fall hazards, no cords running across the walkways, slippery stairs, things like that.
It’s reasonable that you keep, like at work you wouldn’t put an electrical cord across the door in and out of the building, you would also not do that at home.
Yeah, that’s right. Just try and make sure it’s nice and safe.
Now, look, we’re not saying that your home office is going to be absolutely perfect like it is potentially in your normal work environment in the office, but we just want to try and make sure that you eliminate any significant hazards that you have at your workplace at your home office.
We talked about communication, and just make sure you keep in touch with people regularly. If you can, use the headsets like what we are here. I know that some people are saying they’re doing a lot of Zoom meetings, so the headsets are great. They block out the noise from people around you, and also with a good camera too at the correct height, you can avoid that next flexing too. Those are some good tips for that too.
We just talked a lot about the mental health side of things as well. I think we’ve covered all of that.
Cool. I think we’re at questions.
The key takeaways, sorry.
Yeah, a couple of key takeaways. Sorry, Sean.
Just make sure that you’ve got your workstation set up nicely like we demonstrated at the start of the presentation, keep moving, stick to your schedule, try and separate work from home life, and keep in touch. That’s probably the five key takeaways for that presentation.
Awesome. Thanks for that Ben and Lauren and Sean. If you go back one slide, I know we had some questions come through previously that I know Lauren has pre-prepared the answers. Lauren, do you want to go through these questions that were emailed prior to the webinar?
Yes I’d love to. First one,
“Should I buy a new desk chair – I’m working from home?”
That means a new desk chair. Not necessarily. If you do have one at home, it’s great to use. You can just fiddle around with it, like Sean has. Play with all the buttons and see what it does. Make sure that it’s fitted to you as Ben told us before. If you don’t have a desk chair at home, you can always ask to borrow it from your workplace. Same with your monitor, if you’re preparing to work from home for quite a while this might be an option for you to discuss with your employer.
“Does my home office need to have testing and tagging completed on electrical equipment?”
Testing and tagging is not actually required at home and especially with these COVID-19 restrictions.
“Can people come to my house and test and tag my equipment?”
COVID 19 distancing rules have been changed at the moment. As I said before, we don’t need to do the testing and tagging at home.
Cool. I had never even thought about the testing and tagging that you see happen within a work environment and trade shows and things like that. I hadn’t even thought about that for the home. That’s an interesting point – you actually don’t need it. Otherwise, the amount of stuff in your home, every time I brought a new TV or new monitor home, I’d have to get somebody to come and test and tag a cable. That’d be a problem with the amount of TVs and monitors I seem to have at home.
We have a question here from John.
“I know this is on a few people’s mind with respect to the physical safety should travel between workplaces, say for instance the kitchen, bathroom, and fire exit from home be slip, trip and fall risk reduced. Also smoke alarms checked?”
Yeah. Thanks for that, John. We do need to try and eliminate any of those significant hazards in our home office. Yeah, definitely if there’s something obvious there that you can fix – you know, if the bathroom floor’s really slippery and you’ve got to walk through past the tiles to go to different areas, certainly make sure it’s nice and tidy. Your chair as well. Someone talked about the chair. Someone’s asking a question about the chair. Maybe if you can’t get that height exactly right, you might want to maybe use a cushion to try and just bring that height up a little bit. That could be a way to get around it.
I think this next question from Anonymous is,
“What about mice that are angled?”
I think this is best for you, Sean. I know that I have my vertical [mouse].
Obviously, there’s different products that are coming out in the market. Logitech has the Ergo, which is the traditional track ball, it’s the new evolution of the trackball product – which is, if everyone remembers, I’m showing my age now, does everyone remember when you had a mouse with a ball in it, not the lasers that are today? The ball obviously would then sit on the outside of the mouse, and the mouse physically then doesn’t move anymore. People use their thumb in order to manipulate where the ball is. The new Ergo product has been out for a period of time now, if you’re having concerns around that [that] gives you some comfort. But the MX Vertical is one of our MX range that came out. The Vertical, it does reduce strain on your arm and it does keep the mouse at a totally different angle, which is far more natural than how we all seem to see it sit traditionally.
But then it comes down to what you want out of a mouse. Obviously, we’ve got all sorts of things that they can do, and it would just be a case of just going online, looking at a couple of the different options. But if you are feeling pain through there, obviously just go get some medical advice and from there they can put you onto maybe you need to look at an Ergo or MX Vertical.
I went to university and had some pains through my arm through uni, and my computing uni guys were telling me that I should become an accountant so that I didn’t type all day. I pointed out that I’m no good with numbers and stayed on the programming course, and that was due to pain. It obviously does happen. Your carpal tunnels happen; your repetitive strain injuries happen. I’d go get some medical advice and then obviously we’ve got some very specific product that can help with that.
Thanks for that, Sean. We have another one here from John.
“Does home public liability insurance cover injury or is there a professional indemnity insurance cover required for advice on-”
Yeah. Kristy, that’s what I was talking about. You’re covered under your workers’ compensation insurance, if you hurt yourself.
And that’s great.
We’ve got some [more] I think,
“If my work from home chair at maximum height, adjustment is too low for the arms to bend at 90 degrees. What are the hacks to get the chair higher apart from buying a brand new chair? Is it just the cushion or is it dependent on how tall you are?”
Yeah, I would use a cushion. You might be able to use a desk which is a little bit lower, if your chair isn’t quite high enough. It definitely is a problem. Even when I go to workplaces that have a proper ergonomic chair, sometimes it’s hard to get it right up nice and high.
Okay. Well, John has got another one,
“Change and isolation can also trigger existing mental health challenges. Should employers recommend workers stay close to their existing professional support if in place, or offer external professional support – counselors, etc.?”
If for existing professional support we’re talking about employee assistant programs, then we’re still working, so these should still be accessible. There are also other online mental health organizations that we spoke about before as well, like Beyond Blue and things like that. If I’ve answered that correctly, if that was…
I think yeah. That’s how I would take the question guys, is that if you’re in a position where you are currently seeking help or currently are through the traditional ‘doctor putting in contact with somebody in professional counseling’, all those kind of things, those people are obviously still available. I know that there’s access to those things through the hospitals as well, because my sister works within mental health herself. All those mental health things, if you do need help, reach out to Beyond Blue, go and see your GP. There are ways that they can push you into things, but I know that a lot of businesses/large corporates and stuff do have people available as well. Go and see your GP if you need some help. Go contact Beyond Blue, Lifeline, White Ribbon, if you’re in a domestic situation. There’s people out there to go seek help, and that’s obviously very important.
Question here from Adrian.
“Should business’ employers be subsidizing work from home furniture set up?”
I’ll leave it with you guys.
Yeah. Lauren touched on this in the presentation. There might be some alternatives, you might be able to – if you can – get your desk, sorry, not your desk, your chair from your office and take it home if you’re going to be working at home in a permanent arrangement for some time, which a lot of us are.
Yeah, if it’s something that you need at home, you might want to have a chat with your employer about whether they would subsidize that, or purchase a chair for you, but that’s a discussion you’ll need to have with your boss.
There was just one question Kristy that I noticed come up about ‘a physio said to train themselves onto a left-handed mouse instead of the right-handed mouse’. That’s actually a really interesting one. We’ve got a couple of products that you can actually program to be left-handed, like the MX Anywhere 2. We can make that as ambidextrous, you can redo some of the buttons to be left-handed. The M510 I think is another one. There’s a couple of mice, but we don’t have a dedicated, left hand mouse unfortunately at this stage, but you can program one of the other high-end mice for the buttons that would be normally on the product. So you don’t have the slope – this is a right handed mouse, it sits so the thumb can sit where it sits the left-handed mouse. If I tried to use it in the left hand, obviously it wouldn’t have certain things on the sides to allow me to do that. But the Anywhere 2, for example, can be trained to be a left-handed product because you just switch the buttons around in the software. There are some options out there.
There’s a question here as well from Stephanie just about the varying heights with the laptops and the monitors.
As we talked about at the start, you want to have your monitor at your eye level, and if you’re using an external screen and you’re using the laptop, then the best hack is to bring your laptop screen up higher, level with the monitor. You can put some boxes or maybe even reams of paper underneath your laptop, or if you have a laptop raiser that is a product you can get. They’re pretty cheap, just like a small frame that you can sit your laptop on that actually opens your laptop up and stands it up on its end, and then you just use your external keyboard.
One last question before, I think it’s just about time to wrap it up. There’s been a few questions in regards to Sean and mine’s chairs.
They’re AKRacing, a gaming chair. I think mine was around $350 – $400, and the way I justified spending that money on it was I got it in the Tigers’ colors, which is what my husband goes for. He’s a Tiger supporter so that’s how I justified getting this purchase within the house. No, it’s very comfortable. I can share the link with you and Sean has one as well.
Yeah, I got mine because I went through a stage where I thought I was going to be a professional gamer, and obviously we’re spending a lot of time in the chair playing PUBG and Call of Duty. But it has been a nice investment. It’s very comfortable. Gaming chairs seem to be built because you’ve got guys sitting in them for copious amounts of time. Gaming is a really big thing now, so maybe it might be a chance to look at it as a double investment and not only do it for work, but then use it for social time after work also. Cool.
Awesome. Well, I want to say thanks to Ben and Lauren and Sean for joining us and walking through this presentation about working safely in the house. We will be sharing this recording with everybody, any links that we’ve discussed and the checklist that Ben mentioned. Look out for that in your inboxes.
All right. Thank you everyone. We appreciate the time with Ben and Lauren. Thank you very much, guys. It was very much appreciated.
No problem. [inaudible 00:59:32] cool.
I think it stopped. No, we’re still on. Okay. See you later, everyone. I’m going to end I think over here.
The workplace at home
When conducting work from home, the important thing to note is that anywhere you choose to sit – be it a proper desk or the kitchen bench – is considered a workplace environment. Therefore, all the choices you make within that work environment need to be safe.
Benjamin Knox notes that even when we work from home,
“our employer has all the different obligations exactly as they would if you were at your office.”
This is because your workplace is inextricably linked with your wellbeing and your capacity to carry out your work ongoing.
When working at home, employers still have responsibilities, as do employees. This means that employees, while at home, need to take reasonable care for their personal safety. This is done through following procedures and instructions set by employers, making sure you have a safe environment free from slip/trip/fall hazards, and that you are able to work to the same standard you would have when in the office.
Setting up your desk
When setting up a workstation, be it at the office or at home, there are some basic principles that need to be followed. These principles ensure that every worker is working productively and safely at their desk.
A good place to start in terms of setting up a desk is with the desk chair. Knox says that whether it’s neck pain, shoulder pain or a problem with the forearms, these issues can all be brought on by having your desk chair at the incorrect height.
The correct chair height will see feet positioned flat on the floor. Any lumbar cushion should sit in the curve of the spine. Meanwhile, your arms should be at 90 degrees.
For those using laptops, there are extra considerations for meeting ergonomic stations. Where possible, it is recommended that the worker uses a separate (or wireless) mouse and keyboard to ensure your arms are not squeezing onto a small keyboard and trackpad.
If you can, you should raise your laptop screen on some books or a laptop stand to maintain a comfortable screen height. Knox says that when using a monitor, you need to make sure that your eye level sits flush with the top of the screen, allowing the eyes to naturally scroll down. This is one of the easiest ways to avoid neck, shoulder and back pain or another physical discomfort that comes with long hours in front of a screen (i.e eye strain).
Importance of mental health
When it comes to working from home, mental health can often take a back seat. Because we aren’t in an office, there’s the feeling that those everyday work pressures shouldn’t apply. Therefore, we don’t think about how working at home affects us mentally.
An important way to take care of aspects relating to mental health while working from home is to stay connected. Lauren McColl says that employees should stay in contact via phone calls and emails to help each other stay mentally healthy during this time.
Working from home has had the unintended side effect of employees experiencing mental fatigue. This may be because without an office to go to, home is no longer that place where you can get away from work for the night or the weekend.
To combat fatigue, it’s important to have a routine in place and be able to separate work from home. McColl recommends prioritising your day, getting the bigger items out of the way in the morning, and spending the afternoon doing admin work to help you decompress.
Workplace safety requirements are the same for employees who work at an office or at home. These requirements cover a range of things from trip and fall hazards to advice on when to stand up and stretch during the course of the day.
Knox suggests that workers don’t want to be sitting down for any more than 40 to 45 minutes. Phone timers can be set so that employees can stand up, change their posture and do a few stretches.
If a worker was to be injured at home, they would be covered under their employer’s work health and safety policy. However, it’s dependent upon the circumstances, so workers will need to make sure there’s no slip, trip or fall hazards in the form of stairs or exposed cabling.
Making the best of the work from home environment
It’s important to remember that we need to be safe as well as efficient when we spend a day at work. Being safe at work means setting up our desk and all its components in a way that minimises the risk of physical injury. Yet it also means taking care of our mental health.
As you endeavour to make your working environment more friendly in terms of the right monitors, keyboards and mouses, feel free to reach out to a Logitech representative for assistance.
With a Masters in Business Marketing, and a 15 year background spanning process management, B2B relationship management and customer facing roles, Kristy has always held an interest in the psychology behind customer choices. As Logitech’s Business Marketing Specialist for the last three years, Kristy has looked after all outgoing and internal marketing objectives, working with external agencies to create a holistic product offering through ads and content. Kristy’s goal is to ensure Logitech is known as a serious player in the collaboration space; not just boardroom suitable, but easy to deploy from wherever work happens. She’s passionate about helping customers identify their next normal through hybrid working spaces to ensure business continuity, and is thrilled to collaborate with her wider team in a company that sees itself as a huge ambassador for working from home.
VC Marketing Manager, ANZ