Who would have thought that birth control for rabbits would become part of the normal working day? That along with three kids at home and the everyday demands of a full time job were suddenly the reality for one of our project managers Neil Felton. Below he shares his out-of- the-box ideas for getting creative with the space you have to make a home office that works!
Sometimes, when things turn upside down but the show must go on, you need to get your thinking cap on to get the best out of a tricky situation. For me, with a wife temporarily out of work, three kids for home schooling and two pet rabbits (one male, one female – we thought they were both females) to be kept separated at all times in the garden of a 3-bed Semi-Detached home it can be tough to even begin to find the time to put your hand on that thinking cap.
Recognizing that my job would allow and need me to work from home during these times and understanding the importance of having an adequate home working set-up was half the battle. I knew it didn’t need to be large and luxurious with a fancy lamp and Herman Miller chair, but figuring out how and where to set-up in my home was the tricky part.
The next morning, during a few leaps on the trampoline with my eight-year-old son I had a brainwave. Before I knew it, I was cranking open the garden shed going through all the half empty tins of paint which were off to the recycling Centre along with that pink bike with ribbons on the handle bars that had a dodgy chain and seen a few too many rusty miles……. Yes, the garden shed was about to be my new workspace.
It might seem daft, but it ticked a lot of boxes, it was a secure workplace where I could get (for the most part) uninterrupted time to focus on work tasks. It would have adequate heat and lighting with the help of a plug-in radiator. But importantly for me, it also gave me a destination to get to on time every morning to start work, a place to remove myself from when I needed a break. It gave me some structure and balance and sure after all, if it was good enough for my childhood imagination influencer Roald Dahl, it was good enough for me.
When selecting our set-up space at home, it is important to realize that we don’t need to exactly replicate our office work environment, and let’s face it – lots of us can’t. We may not need the handy under-desk storage cupboards on castors or the luxurious touch screen Mitsubishi air con system, but as employees we do have some responsibilities in ensuring we have a safe & suitable place of work, regardless of where that may be.
As employers begin to realize the importance of their own responsibilities and liabilities on this matter, if we have not already done so, we will and certainly rightly so, get the equipment we NEED to work safely from home. We need to get the basics spot on, in that I mean AT LEAST be sitting on a suitably adjustable office type chair for an 8-hour working day and NOT the dining room chair, which will most likely give you musculoskeletal issues sooner or later. Ask any physio in your locality about the increase in back/neck strain issues over the past few months!
Other equipment will be necessary, suitable size desks, laptop stands, separate keyboard and mouse, footrests and even privacy screens where work environments are shared, to name just a few. Then there are the environmental requirements, natural light, enough space to fit all the equipment you require for the tasks you are working on each day; this could be a single laptop or a dual 23” monitor set up, it needs to work for you and the tasks appointed to you specifically.
Enough clearance to position and stretch your legs under a desk and an area where you can work without excessive noise or any other distractions (although singing birds at the feeding station in my garden are an unplanned bonus distraction for me if I am honest). The advice and equipment lists are not exhaustive and are there to look out for us and keep us all safe and well.
While most of us are only too delighted to stay away from the DART, LUAS or car commute to the office, we do still need to be honest with ourselves. Please Ask yourself this, is your home working set-up adequate? Have you ever felt discomfort while working from your home workspace? Felt Cold? Sore Back? Sore Neck? Eyes Strained? Are you working longer hours? Do you know where to report your concerns if the answer to any of these questions is yes?
If so, help yourself as best you can until help arrives. But remember, some businesses do not realize or respect these issues, so speak up to your managers if you have concerns. After all, you would not put up with an inadequate work set-up in the office so why should you when being asked to work from home, and no employer wants or needs sick employees out of work!
If you are a HR or Health & Safety professional who is seeing some red flags or early signs of issues within your remote workforce, it is never too late to get things right when it comes to health and safety.
It has been a pleasurable eye opener to be able to help businesses to help their employees be safe and well while working from home. At Capella we like to say we have got your back, and your neck, but there is so much more to it than that. We have got your health and safety at heart!